- Not to be confused with the two cities, Monterey (California) and Monterey (Massachusetts) in the United States of America.
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.
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 1970s and 1980s. 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.
|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 |
Including the technology district. South of the Rio Santa Catarina.
Far northwest. Home of Monterrey's two international airports.
Northern reaches of the metropolis. There are a couple of black holes, as you can see in the map.
|San Nicolás de los Garza |
|San Pedro Garza Garcia |
Western suburb with many good lodging options.
|Santa Catarina |
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.
Monterrey has two airports. All commercial flights use Monterrey International (MTY) -- the city's main airport. Private and cargo carriers use Del Norte Airport.
- 1 General Mariano Escobedo International Airport (MTY IATA Monterrey International Airport), ☏ . Daily international flights to Detroit, Houston, Dallas, Atlanta, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and Havana. It has several flights a day to all major Mexican destinations, including Mexico City, Guadalajara, Toluca, Cancun, Mérida, Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan, and Tijuana. Several low cost airlines fly from Monterrey to different parts of the country, including Volaris, Interjet, and Viva Aerobus. The airport is located about 20 minutes from downtown in the suburban municipality of Apodaca. The usual taxi fare to go from the airport to the city and vice versa is about US$25.
- 2 [dead link] Del Norte International Airport (NTR IATA), ☏ . Private planes flying to Monterrey can use the smaller Del Norte Airport. There is no bureaucracy involved in entering Monterrey through this airport. There are various FBOs that will be glad to assist you with your every need, and the hospitality of every single employee of the airport and the FBOs give you a very warm welcome to Monterrey. The FBOs can get you in contact with a car rental company or can take you to your hotel. This airport is also in Apodaca but it is a little closer to the city than the Mariano Escobedo Airport.
Ground transportation to/from MTY
- If you are in the city, any taxi will take you and the fare will be the same from any point of the city to the airport. In the airport you have to locate a special counter inside the terminal where you have to pay for the fare to the city. Once you pay you are given a ticket that has to be shown to the driver in order to be let into a cab.
- SKYBUS offers a one-way fare that is a little bit less than US$10. It can take you from tha airport to downtown (25 minutes with no traffic) or Valle Oriente in San Pedro (35 minutes with no traffic). The bus is very comfortable with internet wireless and the personnel is just the kindest there is a bus departing from the airport every hour on the hour. You can find the SKYBUS counter next to the domestic arrivals or visit the website to make your reservation.
- Rental car counters are located inside the terminal building and just outside the domestic arrival area (to your right as you exit customs from the international arrivals door). Rates are no higher than in the U.S., and you can book online through any major car rental company web site. Companies with rental locations on-site at MTY airport include: National, Advantage, Europcar, Thrifty, Alamo, Payless, Hertz, Budget, and Avis.
Airlines serving MTY
- International Service: U.S. airlines serving MTY include American, Delta, and United.
- Both International and Domestic Service: Aeromexico, and Viva Aerobus.
- Domestic Service Only: Aero California, Aeromar, Interjet, Volaris, Magnicharters, and Volaris
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.
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):
- Estrella Blanca [dead link] (Turistar, Futura, Chihuahenses, more)
- Grupo Senda (Sendor, Tamaulipas, Coahuilenses, more)
- Omnibus de Mexico
- Transportes del Norte
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.
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.
- 3 Central Bus Station of Monterrey (Central de Autobuses de Monterrey), Av. Cristóbal Colón 855, ☏ .
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.
Taxis and walking are the best choices. Buses are common but hard to use. The subway is good, but has limited coverage.
Taxis are the easiest way to get around Monterrey. Taxis come in two color schemes: older ones are lime green and white, while the newer ones are yellow and white. The difference is just cosmetic as 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 M$50 (pesos). The fare from downtown to the airport will be about M$350.
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. 300-502 are minibuses. Also there is a metrobus service in Guadalupe and San Bernabe area. There are three routes in San Bernabe and one in Guadalupe. For more info go to Metrorrey website.
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:
- Central: main bus station, Coliseo
- Cuahtemoc: transfer point, low-end shopping, brewery tours
- Padre Mier: shopping near Morelos (Zona Rosa), Holiday Inn Centro
- Zaragoza: Macroplaza, Barrio Antiguo, Howard Johnson, Fiesta Americana, Santa Rosa Suites
- Parque Fundidora: Parque Fundidora, Cintermex, Arena Monterrey, Holiday Inn Fundidora
- Universidad: Universidad Autonoma de Nuevo León, Parque Niños Héroes, Estadio Universitario
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 transportationEdit
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.
- Cerro de la Silla - Monterrey's most famous landmark is the saddle-shaped mountain that dominates the local skyline. There are also hiking trails to its peak, if you're athletically inclined.
- Cerro del Obispado - Historical site, originally home of the Bishop de Monterrey, with excellent views of the city. Home to a small regional history museum with a clerical bent. The Obispado can be easily spotted by virtue of its enormous Mexican flag, flying proudly beside it. The neighbourhood over and around the hill (Colonia Obispado) used to be home of the local high-class, therefore by wandering around, you may spot some old mansions and colonial era houses.
- Cerveceria Cuahtemoc, Centro. Tours and sample of Carta Blanca, Dos Equis, Bohemia, Sol, or one of the other beers brewed here.
- Macroplaza - In the east of the Zona Rosa is Mexico's largest zocalo, or central plaza, a stretch of green space lined with fountains, statues, gardens, and monuments. Ringing the park are many historical buildings and museums, including the Monterrey Cathedral, the Mexican History Museum, the Monterrey Contemporary Art Museum, and the former palace of the governor.
- Puente de la Unidad San Pedro - Futuristic suspension bridge set against a dramatic backdrop of nearby mountains. Also known as 'Puente Atirantado'.
- Safari Parque Estrella - Located about 30 minutes from Monterrey this wildlife safari park features treks through the Serengeti, a petting zoo, and a variety of attractions for the whole family. 
- Cascadas Cola de Caballo - Take a day trip out to the park and see the waterfalls, just a few miles outside Monterrey.
- Presa de la Boca (Using Carretera Nacional). This is one of the dams that provides the water supply for the city. Located just on the outskirts, this is a popular recreational spot for the local population. Here you will find lots of traditional products, handcrafts, regional cuisine and some other goods. It is recommended for its traditional atmosphere. Also you may hire a service to do horse riding, sailing, karting or biking.
- Fuerza Regia (basketball) - Professional basketball seems to be taking off in Mexico and the Fuerza Regia play in the massive, ultramodern new Arena Monterrey. 
- Sultanes(baseball) - Monterrey's AAA-level Mexican League Baseball team is the Sultanes --- one of the best and most enduring teams in Mexico. Kick back in the 40,000-seat Estadio de Beisbol Monterrey on any summer evening, have a couple ice cold Carta Blancas, and cheer when the Sultanes smack in another jonron! 
- Rayados (football/soccer) - The Rayados (sometimes also called La Pandilla) are one of two professional soccer teams --- both very good --- playing in Monterrey. Games are played in the newly built Estadio BBVA with a capacity of 53,500. 
- Tigres (football/soccer) - The Tigres are Monterrey's "other" first-division professional soccer team, playing at the 43,000 seat Estadio Universitario. The biggest game of the year is the Clasico Regiomontano, pitting the two hometown teams against each other.
- Borregos Salvajes (football/American) - College football with a Mexican accent, the Borregos Salvajes are the team for ITESM (also known as "Tec de Monterrey").
- Autenticos Tigres (football/American) - College football with a Mexican accent, the Autenticos Tigres are the team for UANL.
- La Huasteca - Dramatic canyons cut through the mountains on the edge of Monterrey with sheer rock cliffs and an impressive display of nature's power.
- Chipinque Ecological Park - Chipinque is one of the white-faced mountains towering over Monterrey, this one over the suburban municipalities of San Pedro and Garza Garcia. Drive up to the mesa where you can picnic while your kids enjoy the playground. Go hiking or mountain biking on the rugged trails that go up through the mountains to a fire-spotting station, or onwards toward the reservoir near the outlying town of Santiago. There is a rustic mountain lodge offering affordable family lodging and a restaurant serving traditional Mexican cuisine in a setting with unparalleled views of the city below. 
- Matacanes - Matacanes is a Mecca for the rugged outdoors sportsman, it's a narrow, whitewater river rushing through the Sierra Madres, cascading over waterfalls, and forcing its way with all due haste towards the Gulf of Mexico. People come to Matacanes to hike the verdant green mountain trails, to swim in the cool pools, to rappel down sheer cliff faces, and to see a side of Northern Mexico that few guide books take the time to explore. 
- El Potrero Chico an internationally renowned rock climbing area 1 hr ride outside the city. It is also great for biking and trail running.
- Parque Plaza Sesamo - Popular theme park featuring all your favorite Sesame Street characters, from Elmo to Big Bird. There's rides for the kids, shows, and an impressive array of water slides to help you cool off during the hottest summer afternoons. .
- Lucha Libre - If WWE is too tame for you, check out Lucha Libre --- the original professional wrestling. Tuesday evenings at 7pm seem to be the best time to catch some wrestling action. It happens at the Coliseo, across the street from the Central de Autobuses.
- Bull Fights - Some people find it bloody and barbaric, but it's an authentic slice of Spanish heritage and the bullfights in Monterrey feature top-tier professional matadors. 
- Casa Tec - Monterrey's ITESM is the largest and most highly regarded private university in Latin America. Often considered a privilege for Mexico's affluent young adults, the school aggressively seeks to open its doors to talented minds of all income levels through an amazingly rich scholarship program, funded by periodic raffles of multi-million dollar mansions, fully furnished right down to his-and-her luxury cars in the garage and enough cash to pay all taxes and household maintenance for the first years. Homes for the next raffle are open for public tours and its great fun to stroll through the home, seeing how you could live if only your number came up. The raffle is called Sorteo Tec and the home tours are in San Pedro, in the Valle Oriente part of Monterrey. 
- Santa Lucía Riverwalk - A 2.5 km (1.55 mi) artificial river that can be walked, biked or sailed through. It connects the Mexican History Museum with the Fundidora Park. Boats can be boarded to get a few good shots and hear a bit of the city's history. It also has a bar, 'Las Tenerías', where argentinian food can be enjoyed with a few drinks and live music.
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 Mexican (Liverpool, Palacio del Hierro, etc.) and U.S. (Sears, JCPenny) department store chains. The major malls in Monterrey include:
- Galerias Monterrey
- Plaza Fiesta San Agustin/Fashion Drive
- Galerías Valle Oriente
- Plaza Cumbres
- Plaza Fiesta Anahuac
- Paseo San Pedro
- Paseo La Fe
- Esfera Fashion Hall
- Nuevo Sur
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 1.6-km (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.
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:
- cabrito - Whole kid goats are splayed over hot coals and slow roasted for hours. Usually served with hot tortillas, fresh sliced onions, and house salsa.
- machacado - Breakfast in Monterrey often includes machacado con huevo, dried salted beef is shredded into a pan and lightly braised, then eggs are scrambled in -- serve with warm tortillas and salsa.
- atropellado - Dry meat with tomato, onion and peppers, really good!
- cafe de olla - Rustic-style coffee brewed with a touch of cinnamon. Delicious!
- arracherra - What's known as fajitas in some places is arracherra in Monterrey -- grilled marinated skirt steak topped with melted white cheese and served with hot tortillas and caramelized onions.
- leche quemada - Nuevo León is famous for its succulently sweet caramel candies made from scorched sweetened goat milk. The candies are available in several forms, including small balls dusted with fine granular sugar, rolls, and of course, Glorias -- the queen of leche quemada, with a healthy dollop of chopped pecans to enhance its already nutty sweet flavor
- discada - It gets its name because traditionally you make in a used plow disc that's been welded shut. Meat, pork, chicken, sausage, chilaca, onion, beer and bacon with some tortillas.
Some good restaurants for authentic Northern Mexican food include:
- La Huasteca
- El Regio
- El Rey del Cabrito
Good downtown restaurants include:
- Ianilli's (Italian cuisine)
- Casa Oaxaca (traditional Mexican cuisine)
- La Casa del Maiz (traditional central Mexican)
- El Tio (traditional Mexican)
- Dona Tota (gorditas)
- Taqueria Las Monjitas
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).
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.
- Barrio Antiguo (Old Town) You will find plenty of bars with live music that open until early in the morning. Make sure you visit Bar-Rio Antiguo and Zocalo (its courtyard hosts 4-5 clubs), located on Padre Mier. Keep an eye out for people handing out "No Cover" passes on the street, as well as flyers advertising events, cover fee, and special offers (example: 2x1 on bottles before midnight, girls 50% off cover fee before 11PM) at the different nightclubs. La Tumba is a good club for people who want to party to the tropical sounds of Cuban salsa.
- The Centrito is the only safe option for partying, located in San Pedro suburb, Republica, Dubai and El Clásico . Now as you can imagine Centrito is one of the best bets right now when it comes to clubbing. If you choose you can still go to the top notch clubs in calzada de San pedro, they are calledHavana which is located in Avenida San Pedro or the Privatt.
- Casino gambling is not permitted, but off-track horse race betting is. If gambling is your game, head to Caliente. The larger, nicer location is near Galerias Monterrey, just off Gonzalitos by the Hampton Inn. Another location is downtown in the Macroplaza area, on Zaragoza next door to the Howard Johnson.
- A night out is not complete until you finish eating "breakfast" at a local taqueria or hot dog stand. It is very common to find outdoor grills going full-tilt on city streets at 4am. Tacos del Julio and Tacos del Güero are two of the most sought-out establishments for this purpose.
- The traffic fine for being caught driving under the influence can reach up to US$2,500 or three days imprisonment. Police roadblocks on Saturday nights are common. It's not worth the risk.
- Hotel Fundador (http://www.travelbymexico.com/leon/fundador/), Diego De Montemayor, ☏ . A clean, quiet, cheap, air-conditioned hotel in the heart of the Barrio Antiguo. Very comfortable and clean, and prices are similar to La Casa Del Barrio (US$25-30 per person a night or M$351).
- La Casa Del Barrio, 1221 Col Centro Barrio Antiguo, ☏ . A hostel in the center of the Barrio Antiguo. It is away from most of the bars, but is still noisy (windows of rooms face a loud courtyard, and it echos). Owner is often absent, so guests cannot get into rooms. Charge for use of stove, charge for breakfast, charge for laundry. Routinely overbooks, so you may not get your room of choice (or any room at all). Beds vary in comfort levels.
- NH Monterrey, Av Jose Vasconcelos 402., ☏ . Rooms from US$115.
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.
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:
- Take a trip to see the waterfalls at "Cola de Caballo". Located in Santiago, Nuevo León.
- Take a trip to Grutas de Garcia (about 40 min away) and see the caves, there is a cable car that takes you to the entrance. Then you have to pay for a guided tour that lasts for about an hour.
- Take a day trip to Presa de la Boca. The shops are magnificent. An elegant lunch can be enjoyed at Las Palomas in the town of Santiago, up on the hill.
- Take a safari at the Bioparque Estrella.
- Pack a picnic lunch and go exploring in La Husteca, Matacanes, Chipinque, or one of the other nearby parks.