I visited Tijuana a few months ago for the first time and I fell in love with everything about the city especially the food. I love Mexican food so it was not really that hard of a sell. Tijuana has gotten a bad reputation over the years because of the high crime rate. When I told people about my trip many people kept asking why I would visit somewhere so dangerous. Hearing everyone’s opinions reminded me of the dangers of attaching a single narrative to any person, place, or thing. I am not saying that the city does not have a high crime rate, however there is a lot more to Tijuana than that. I think it is important to give every place a chance. There are places and activities tourists should avoid when visiting the area, but there are also so many safe areas that tourists can visit. The people I met in Tijuana were some of the most warm and friendly people I had ever met and I will cherish my experiences there forever.
My friend and I flew into San Diego because it was a lot cheaper than flying into Tijuana. From San Diego, we took the MTS UC San Diego Blue Line train and got off at the San Ysidro stop. When we got off at this stop, we exchanged money and then walked into the Mexican Border Control building, which was adjacent to the stop. Getting through Mexican Customs was a lot more relaxed than the U.S. Customs. There are other alternatives that people take to get through customs but the train and walking option are the least complicated options.
Where To Stay
Hotel Ticuán is one of the highest rated hotels in Tijuana. The hotel was extremely cheap and top quality. It comes with free gourmet breakfast every morning, a fitness center and a spa (this costs extra). The hotel is located on Avenida Revolucion which is a few minutes away from Centro Cultural Tijuana. Below are other hotel options in the area:
What To Do
Tijuana Cultural Center
The Tijuana Cultural Center was opened in 1982 to promote more tourism to Tijuana. The center houses the Museo of the Californias which recounts the history of Baja California Sur ( Southern portion of California which is in Mexico). In addition to the museum, there is an outdoor garden and a dome shaped movie theater (pictured below).
I am not one to go shopping while on vacation, but shopping in Tijuana was worth it. We went to the Plaza Rio Tijuana. The prices were a lot cheaper, especially in the stores specific to the area. My favorite store in the shopping center was called High Street, which is where I got the outfit pictured below.
We visited the Tijuana beach and it was not really what we expected. We visited with the intention to lounge on the beach and read a book, but the beach was very crowded and not as relaxing as we hoped. If you would like to lounge out by a body of water in Tijuana, I would suggest finding a hotel with a nice pool. This beach was not really worth the trip. If you do end up going to the beach, there are quite of few murals there; look below for more information about Tijuana’s murals.
Murals of Tijuana
There are murals all over the city. This particular mural is called Tijuana Transmora and it is located at the following address. Calle Primera 8269, Tijuana Centro, 22000 Tijuana, BC, Mexico. We had a difficult time locating this mural at first but if you use this address then you should be able to find it easily. Below is a list of additional Murals in the city:
Mercado Hidalgo and Mercado Artesanias
Mercado Hidalgo is a popular market visited by many locals and tourists. Here you will find fresh fruits, vegetables, herbs and piñatas. Mercado Artesanias is another market that mainly sells souvenirs like art and clothing pieces.
Telefonica Gastro Park
Telefonica Gastro Park is the perfect mix of dining and lounging. Here you will find food trucks, a bar, a brewery and more. This is a great location to meet new people, drink and eat great food. My friend and I only planned on going there to grab some tacos but we ended staying there for hours talking, eating and drinking with a couple people we met at the park.
What to Eat
El Perico Taco Shop
El Perico Taco Shop was close to our hotel and it was one of the first taco shops we saw and it was delicious. They gave us so much food for such a small price. If you cannot make it to El Perico, I am sure any taco shop in the area will do just fine.
Anthony Bourdain Locations
While in TJ we also took the opportunity to visit a few of the locations that Anthony Bourdain visited during his No Reservations episode in Tijuana.
The first one we visited was La Mezcalera which was a bar that also had some food options. From drinks made with tamarind to Piña Colada, the drinks were delicious and cheap. While there we also got Tamales. This was the only opportunity we had to get Tamales and being that it was at a bar, the Tamale was better than any other Tamale I’ve ever had in the states.
Next we stopped by Dandys del Sur, a Cantina on Revelucion Avenue. The bar serves many local drinks and also serves local snacks like Chicharones.
Honestly, the best place to get food while in Tijuana is on any street corner. There is an abundance of street food. I did not eat any street food because my stomach is extremely sensitive, however my friend ate a lot of street food and thoroughly enjoyed the food more than any restaurants we visited.
Overall, my Tijuana experience was an eye-opener. It showed me that you never truly know a place until you’ve explored it. If you are planning on visiting Tijuana, I hope this guide will help make your trip easier to plan.
Thanks for reading!