Monterrey

Not to be confused with Monterey.
Mural depicting the founding of Monterrey.

Monterrey is the third largest city in Mexico and the capital of the state of Nuevo León. It is the commercial, industrial, educational, and transportation hub of northern Mexico, also third in economic importance after Mexico City and Mexico State. Although it is historically an industrial and commercial city (in fact most foreign visitors come for business purposes), tourists will be surprised at the wealth of cultural and entertainment attractions that the city has to offer.

Understand

Monterrey traces its modern history to its founding in 1596, when Diego de Montemayor founded the city, together with 12 first families. The story is told by a mural on one of the modern grey concrete and black glass government office towers downtown, just off the Macroplaza. The mural seems odd in its juxtaposition of Spanish conquestadors set next to a modern city of skyscrapers and factories. It does capture the spirit of Monterrey though --- a city that isn't so much a product of its past as it is a product of its future.

Monterrey is an aggressively modern city, unlike most destinations in Mexico. Although it does have some colonial era sights, and its Barrio Antiguo district preserves a sense of Monterrey as it was in its once "sleepy town" days, the city is very much a product of the industrial age of the late 19th and 20th centuries.

Today, Monterrey has a culture that values education and business ethics. Often referred to as "an industrial giant", the label is more true in the imagination than it is in reality. Monterrey's big steel and iron works have been shut down for almost two decades, and even the concrete, glass, and brewing industries don't dominate the economy as they once did. Instead, people in Monterrey are today more likely to work in retail, in banking, in telecommunications, IT, health care or education.

The city enjoys one of Mexico's highest standards of living, and the population is more educated and cultured than average.

Monterrey is also a large city. The central downtown has a population of about a million, but the metropolitan area that includes all of its adjacent suburban municipalities brings its total city population to just under 4 million --- similar in size to the San Francisco Bay Area in the U.S.

While it is true that visitors seeking the traditional flavor of colonial Mexico find little to love about Monterrey, the city has emerged as a leading cultural center: it likes cutting edge contemporary architecture (like the visually stunning Puente Atirantado or Puente Viaducto de la Unidad in San Pedro Garza Garcia, the new circular Tec business school in el Valle, or the physics-defying twin leaning bookends look of that shocking white concrete and black glass building that you see as you drive past the ITESM campus). It's also a youthful city that tends to prefer cutting edge rockeros like Plastilina Mosh or Kinky to the cowboy-hat wearing cumbia groups that built the city's music industry in the '70s and '80s. Monterrey is a city where international cuisine finds a welcoming reception, and where high-speed broadband internet connections are actually becoming more commonplace than in many U.S. communities. Monterrey is a progressive, modern city that likes to learn, likes to work, and likes to live for the weekend.

Districts

Map of the Monterrey Metropolitan Area
Zona Rosa
Contains the Barrio Antiguo and Macroplaza areas and many of the city's top attractions.
Garden District
West central district with many parks. The traffic on this area of the city is unbearable.
North Central
Northwest
South
Including the technology district. South of the Rio Santa Catarina.
Apodaca
Far northwest. Home of Monterrey's two international airports.
Escobedo
Northern reaches of the metropolis. There are a couple of black holes, as you can see in the map.
Guadalupe
San Nicolás de los Garza
San Pedro Garza Garcia
Western suburb with many good lodging options.
Santa Catarina

Get in

Faro Comercio is a monument to Monterrey's business culture.

Monterrey is a large city with a wide variety of transportation options. Bus, plane, or personal car are the most practical ways to get to Monterrey.

By plane

Monterrey has two airports. All commercial flights use Monterrey International (MTY) -- the city's main airport. Private and cargo carriers use Del Norte Airport.

Monterrey's new MUNE museum opened September 2007.

Ground transportation to/from MTY

Airlines serving MTY

By bus

Monterrey's Central de Autobuses is the hub of bus transportation in the city and is the largest bus station in northern Mexico. The station has bays for more than 100 buses to simultaneously load or unload. It is served by more than a dozen first-class bus lines and dozens more second-class bus lines. Trans-border buses go between Monterrey and cities throughout the United States while long distance buses go from Monterrey to other major Mexican bus hubs and to every notable city in northern Mexico.

Monterrey's Central de Autobuses, Metrorrey subway line running overhead.

Bus lines operating between Monterrey and Texas and other southern U.S. state destinations include (among others):

First-class and executive-level bus lines operating between Monterrey and other Mexican cities include (among others):

Some bus lines also have small company-specific bus stations on the outskirts of the city, for example, Grupo Senda has a stop near the Cintermex, which can be convenient for passengers arriving by way of the McAllen/Reynosa border crossing.

Location: Central de Autobuses is located in the heart of Monterrey on Av. Colon. You can get to the Central de Autobuses using the Metrorrey subway system. The main phone number for the bus station is (81) 8372-9324.

By car

Monterrey is about 200 km south of the U.S./Mexico border. The most common border crossings, both in South Texas, used to get to Monterrey are Laredo/Nuevo Laredo and McAllen-Hidalgo/Reynosa. The travel time from either Reynosa or Nuevo Laredo is about two hours. Many regios (As residents of Monterrey are nicknamed) drive to San Antonio and all points north through Puente Colombia (Colombia Solidarity Bridge) outside of Nuevo Laredo. This might sometimes be attributed to safety concerns following press coverage of Nuevo Laredo's international drug trade violence, but most often, knowledgeable travelers prefer the Colombia checkpoint because crossing is faster and easier, especially at peak crossing times.

From points in the United States, take Interstate 35 south. The highway ends at International Bridge 2 in Laredo. The Aduana office for handling vehicle import paperwork is on the river road in between Bridge 1 and Bridge 2. Mexican auto insurance can also be purchased there. From Nuevo Laredo, take Mexico Highway 85 south and it brings you right into Monterrey.

Guia Roji maps to Mexico are indispensable for drivers in Mexico. You can buy them online ahead of time, or they are sold in every Sanborns store in Mexico. You will need a map to drive in Monterrey because the city is large and complex.

Get around

Taxis and walking are the best choices. Buses are common but hard to use. The subway is good, but has limited coverage.

Taxis

Taxis are the easiest way to get around Monterrey. The green and white Eco-Taxis are most common, and they are both affordable and plentiful. Taxis use meters in Monterrey, and to avoid overcharges, insist that the driver use the meter. The average fare for an in-city trip will be about 50 pesos. The fare from downtown to the airport will be about 200 pesos.

Bus

The buses in Monterrey go through the city numbers 1-199 go in a certain part of the city.Numbers 200-300 go to most part of the city.And 300-502 are minibuses. Also there is a metrobus service in Guadalupe and San Bernabe area.Theres three routes in San Bernabe and one in Guadalupe. For more info go to Metrorrey website. .

Subway

Map of Monterrey subway system.

The Metrorrey subway system is clean, modern, and very inexpensive, though the coverage is not extensive. It can be used to go between downtown areas like Macroplaza or Barrio Antiguo and the Central de Autobuses bus station. It also stops near the Cerveceria Cuahtemoc and the Coliseo and is a good choice if you are staying in the suburban municipality of Guadalupe. The useful stops for a tourist include:

Car

Street near the Macroplaza in downtown Monterrey.

Renting a car is a possibility, though it can be expensive and navigating the streets can be a bit tricky. As with any major metro area, parking is always an issue, though parking is generally easier in Monterrey than in other cities of similar size. Many downtown hotels offer free parking and free valet parking for their guests. A large public lot under the Macroplaza usually has spaces available.

Downtown Tourism Transportation

In the downtown area, there is a tourist trolley that does regular circuits around the Macroplaza and Barrio Antiguo areas.

Riverboats on the Paseo Santa Lucia can be used to go between the Macroplaza area and Parque Fundidora. The boats leave from the waterway below the Museo de Historia Mexicana, near the Palacio del Gobierno.

See

Museo de Historia Mexicana in downtown Monterrey

Do

Commencing the bull fight, Plaza Monumental, Monterrey

Sports

Salon de la Fama Beisbol Profesional Mexicana
Bungee jumping at the mesa, Parque Ecologico Chipinque, Monterrey

Eco-tourism

Other Activities

Buy

Inside the MARCO Museum.

The shopping scene in Monterrey is excellent. You'll find many international labels and designer houses in the upper-end malls. There are two artesanal cooperatives that cater to the tourist souvenir market (one on Morelos near the Macroplaza, the other on Hidalgo near the Holiday Inn Centro), as well as UPS stores in several major shopping malls.

The upper-end malls consist of four very large, modern malls. These malls are not unlike malls elsewhere in the world, and they're usually anchored by both Mexican (Liverpool, Palacio del Hierro, etc.) and U.S. (Sears, JCPenny) department store chains. The major malls in Monterrey include:

Morelos, also known as the Zona Rosa, is a pedestrian friendly street lined with busy shops, small malls, shopping arcades, and filled with street vendors and musicians.

Local character is on display on the Carretera Nacional, heading out of the city towards the Cola de Caballo. A 1-mile stretch of highway near the town of Santiago is lined with small open-air shops, restaurants, and marketplaces. You can get great deals on rustic furniture, clothing, household goods, homemade food products, and just about anything else you can imagine. Parking can be difficult on weekends, but the selection is at its best and the atmosphere is the closest thing you'll find to the big outdoor markets boasted by cities in the rest of the Latin world.

Although Monterrey is not known for any specific types of popular folk art, their regional candies are widely sold throughout the city and make excellent gifts to bring back home. Look for any kind of "leche quemada", especially the deliciously carmelized "Glorias", crusted in chopped pecans.

Eat

In the beer garden at the Cerveceria Cuahtemoc.

Monterrey is a paradise for spicy food lovers and anyone who loves the smoky flavor of fresh meats grilled over smoldering wood embers will be right at home in any restaurant serving authentic Northern Mexican cuisine. Worthwhile local delicacies are:

Some good restaurants for authentic Northern Mexican food include:

Good downtown restaurants include:

Cheap eats:

Monterrey is a famous brewing city and is the home for popular brands like Dos Equis and Bohemia. You can stop by the beer garden in front of the brewery anytime during the day for a free glass of beer under the towering oak trees. If you like craft beers, stop by the Sierra Madre Brewing Company (now with four locations throughout the city, each featuring fresh beer and brick-oven pizzas).

Drink

By day, the Barrio Antiguo has stylish colonial charm, at night, it's a club-hopper's scene.

The clubbing scene in Monterrey is very hot. Nightclubs range from the typical "dive bar" to the very expensive, valet-please-park-my-Lamborghini places. Because Monterrey is home to the top colleges in Mexico, thousands of young people from all over Mexico party as early as Wednesday. You will surely find a club that suits your taste. There are 2 major clubbing areas to know about, downtown known as the Barrio Antiguo and the Centrito, in the Colonia del Valle.

Sleep

Budget lodging

Monterrey has a wide variety of options for the backpacker or extreme budget traveler. There are several very cheap hotels clustered within a few blocks of the bus station, though many feature dubious cleanliness. Hostels are a better option, and there are at least three hostels operating in Monterrey - these offer clean bunks for as cheap as US$10 per night. Several new budget hotels have opened in Monterrey since 2004: these new properties include a CityExpress on the southern side of the city, an Ibis in San Pedro, and another Ibis at the airport --- rooms can be had at all of these for under US$50 per night.

Connect

High-speed broadband internet is widely available and most hotels provide wi-fi hotspots. Cyber cafes provide short-term internet access for about US$1 per hour. There are many of these cyber cafes around Monterrey, and you can usually find one on the side alleys off Morelos

Newspapers in Monterrey include:

Cope

Consulates

Go next

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Monday, September 07, 2015. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.