Five essential apps for traveling to Mexico City

Dec 3, 2010
Shine

Being the year of the bicentennial of its independence from Spain and the centennial of its revolution, Mexican tourism is heating up, despite negative news about the drug war. The capital, Mexico City, is an urban oasis, with everything from world-class culinary experiences to culture to nightlife. In fact, UNESCO recently awarded Mexican cuisine status […]

Being the year of the bicentennial of its independence from Spain and the centennial of its revolution, Mexican tourism is heating up, despite negative news about the drug war. The capital, Mexico City, is an urban oasis, with everything from world-class culinary experiences to culture to nightlife. In fact, UNESCO recently awarded Mexican cuisine status as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. The city is full of World Heritage Sites, ancient and modern architecture, vibrant nightlife and an incomparable arts scene – all which make this city a true gem. Find the best things to do and ways to get around with this list of essential apps for traveling to Mexico City.

Visit Mexico (Free) by Consejo de Promoción Turistica de México

Launched in July 2010, the Mexico Tourism Board knocked it out of the park with this app, which provides nationwide travel tips from six regions, all 32 states and in-depth info on the country’s top 27 tourist destinations. The app is available in both English and Spanish. To select your choice, just change your iPhone language preference and restart the app to switch languages. This robust app tells you the best places to find certain types of pastimes, such as golf, outdoor activities, culture and museums, spas, entertainment and more. There’s also a great guide to all of Mexico’s World Heritage Sites, festivals, history, weather by major city/region in both Fahrenheit and Celsius, and news headlines. The “Where To?” feature gives great tips on local customs, cuisine, transportation and main attractions. This is an excellent app for finding activities, and exploring the sites and history in Mexico City and beyond.

Ubicate! (99 cents) by Hector Zarate

A must-have for anyone traveling on public transit in Mexico City, this app is like the Mexican version of the popular U.S. navigation site for discriminating public transit travelers, HopStop (which also has a free iPhone app in the App Store). Load it up and plug in what station you want to leave from and where you want to go, and the app will give you the quickest route to get there, with transit choices including the Metro (the subway system), MetroBús, Tren Ligero and Tren Suburbano. Detailed directions tell you what lines to take, how many stops in between, where to change lines, if necessary, and where to exit. Not sure where the nearest station is? Click on “Find a Station,” and allow the GPS to locate you and tell you where the nearest subway, bus or train stop is. Also included: a map with the Metro and MetroBús lines in color to help you figure out how far you need to go.

La Banquetera (Free) by Medusa Estudio

A genius app, though young but growing with recommendations each week, that helps you find the best changarros (slang for “joints”) in Mexico City to eat for 50 pesos (about $4.25) or less. There are four categories to choose from: Antojitos (appetizers or snacks), Comidas (lunches), Internacional (international) and Vegetariana (vegetarian). You can also search by borough, or zona. I have a feeling the more people that begin using this app, the more extensive the list will become and more boroughs will be added; currently you can search the Zona Metropolitana, Centro, Coyoacán, Polanco, Condesa, Roma and Sur areas. The map shows you what’s nearby, with convenient little pinpoints to help you find your next cheap thrill with a tasty taco or torta.

mPassport Mexico City (Free) by Highway to Health, Inc.

One of the worst feelings while traveling is getting sick and needing to see a doctor, but not knowing where to go or what medicine to pick up from the local pharmacy to cure what ails you. This app has everything you’ll need to know if you get sick in Mexico City – a list of trusted English-speaking doctors and dentists, the ability to request an appointment directly from the app, an alphabetical drug-equivalency guide, how to contact emergency services, a list of hospitals with 24/7 emergency care and a great list of medical term and phrase translations (English to Spanish and Spanish to English), with everything from symptoms to a list of questions and needs you might want to ask for when visiting the doctor. A GPS locator within the app can tell you where the nearest doctor or hospital is. Bonus cool feature: The translations also have an audio feature to play the words or phrases, as spoken by an actual human being so you can be understood if your Spanish is limited.

Prensa México ($1.99) by José Valentín Restrep

If you’re a news junkie like me, you’ll love the Prensa México app, which aggregates the RSS feeds of all of the important national and local news sources in Mexico City and the surrounding areas. Some of the newspapers in Mexico require paid subscriptions for online content, but this app is a nice way around that while traveling. The app refreshes with up-to-the-minute updates with everything from local, regional, business, political, sports, opinion and international news. Among the news sources available are staples such as El Universal, La Reforma, El Milenio and La Jornada, with a total of 14 newspapers to choose from. If there’s a news feed you want to read that isn’t offered, you can also request that it be added, and the app now also includes the ability to share news stories via Facebook and Twitter.

Bonus app: SpanishDict (Free) by Curiosity Media

If your Spanish isn’t exactly fluent, you’ll love the SpanishDict app, a Spanish-English dictionary that boasts more than 100,000 entries. The app lives on your phone, so you can access the dictionary even when you’re without a phone signal or Wi-Fi. The app also has a word game to practice your vocabulary, a phrasebook with everyday conversation items and a word-of-the-day feature. You can bookmark certain words if you think you’ll use them often, but won’t always remember them by heart. Each entry in the dictionary and phrasebook also has an audio feature with real human beings speaking to teach you the correct pronunciation. This is a great, simple app, especially for those times when you need to know the difference between “Estoy embarazada,” (I’m pregnant) and “Tengo vergüenza,” (I’m embarrassed).

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