"Why would I vist Ciudad Juarez?" you might ask
Let's face it: Ciudad Juarez doesn't have the best of reputations, and while there's probably some truth in what you may have heard the city has changed quite a bit in the past years.
Ciudad Juarez in Chihuahua is just a short walk from El Paso (for real: you can just walk across the border, like I did), and besides authentic Mexican food there are plenty of cultural and natural attractions. Locals are genuinely friendly too.
All this to say that there are many things to do in Ciudad Juarez, most of them family friendly, and can be done in a day or two.
Where is Ciudad Juarez?
Ciudad Juarez- formerly known as El Paso del Norte (The Pass of the North)- is the most populous city in the Mexican state of Chihuahua. It lies on the Rio Grande, right at the border between Mexico and United States, opposite the city of El Paso in Texas.
Together with the surrounding area, El Paso and Ciudad Juarez comprise the second largest bi-national metropolitan area on the Mexico-U.S. border with a combined population of over 2.7 million people.
Ciudad Juarez Crime
In past years violence in Ciudad Juarez was extremely high and something to worry about when planning a travel to Mexico, but not anymore. Most of the criminal activity was directly related to illegal drug trafficking, and was mainly occurring within factions of various drug cartels.
Since 2010 (a year later it was considered the world's most dangerous city by the UN Global Homicide Report) Ciudad Juárez has turned into a rising tourist destination and a great place to get a real taste of Mexico.
Nightlife in Ciudad Juarez is nothing closed to what it was back in the 90s, and while it's still alive with clubs and bars to check out, they are no longer close to the border as they used to be as many areas do become dangerous.
Make sure you know where you're going and you will have a great time, but wandering off the safe zones could run you into trouble.
In present days, the city is like most others when it comes to safety, and it's one you can visit at ease as I've experienced. This said you might want to consider using anti theft travel gear (like I do) to explore the city, which you can use anywhere else in the world.
Ciudad Juarez Weather
In Juarez the summers are hot and the winters are short and cold. It’s dry and clear most of time with a very low chance of rain or snow throughout the year.
Considering humidity, temperatures feel very pleasant and the best time to come for outdoor activities is between April and June.
The busiest months for tourism are January, May and June.
What to Do in Ciudad Juarez?
Besides being a border crossing town, it’s an important cultural and business center, full of tourist attractions to keep you busy for at least an entire day.
If you want to keep things simple this guided walking tour of Juarez will take you to the best attractions in the city, but you can also explore Juarez on your own.
You can find everything from archaeological sites, parks and white sand dunes, to historical monuments and buildings. Read along and learn what there is to do.
The Cathedral of Ciudad Juarez & Our Lady of Guadalupe Mission
Established in 1659, our Lady of Guadalupe Mission is considered “The Queen of the Missions” for being the first of the Northern Passage.
Nowadays, is still preserved and open on special occasions. Visitors often come here to admire its beautiful adobe walls, wood beams and palm tree trunks.
In the 40’s the growth of the congregation was such that the small mission was not sufficient so a large cathedral was built next to it. With its neoclassical style, twin bell towers and high ceilings, the Cathedral is a must-see attraction when visiting Juarez.
Casa de Adobe Museum
Located in the outskirts of the city, accessible by a dirt road and sitting a few feet away from the Rio Grande lies the Casa de Adobe.
It was from this small two-room adobe house where Francisco Madero and Pancho Villa planned the battle of Juarez during the Mexican Revolution.
Unfortunately, the original structure was destroyed on a fire, but a new house was set to educate people about the Revolution’s importance and its impact on the country.
The house holds some artifacts and is decorated with pieces from the time.
The Museum of the Revolution in the Border
This museum, also known as the former Customs Building, has been the site of several historic events. It dates back to the 19th century and was inaugurated on September 1889 as the border checkpoint between Mexico and U.S.
After years of abandonment it was remodeled and finally opened in 2011.
It features nine thematic axes related to how Juarez lived the Mexican Revolution. Here you can discover who the players were and learn their history. The museum takes you through a chronological journey of the Revolution and includes photos and artifacts from the period.
Which are the Best Outdoor Activities in Ciudad Juarez?
Ciudad Juarez is a city, sure, but many of it's attractions are outdoors. Definitely those that are most fun if you're visiting with kids, but adults won't be left behind.
Samalayuca Dune Fields
This is a place where you can completely forget about the past violence in Ciudad Juarez. Hundreds of visitors come from the surroundings to appreciate the beauty of this desert landscape.
Located just 29 miles from the city’s downtown, it is a great destination for extreme sports enthusiasts. But if that doesn’t appeal to you, simply enjoy the scenery on a guided walk tour.
Mercado Ciudad Juarez
To get a true feeling of Mexican culture you need to visit the market area in Juarez. Located around the Cathedral and Our Lady of Guadalupe Mission is the best place to get a glimpse of everyday life.
Goods may range from typical Mexican souvenirs and themed trinkets to high quality artisan-made glassware, pottery and jewelry. Merchants are friendly and most of them speak English.
There are also street musicians, zoot-suited dancers and plentiful food vendors selling everything imaginable.
Central Park Hermanos Escobar
Established in 1967, this park is considered one of the most beautiful in the city. The park is well-maintained and encompasses a lot of grassy and shaded areas. There’s even a man made lake where you can take a boat ride or spot some ducks.
Food in Ciudad Juarez
Without a doubt one of the best things to do in Ciudad Juarez is to eat authentic Mexican food at a fraction of the price of what it would cost across the border you left behind.
Did you know that it si generally accepted that burritos were invented in Ciudad Juarez? And of all the places in town where you can eat them insiders say that the best- which also stick to the original recipe- are those found at a car wash: Burritos Crisostomo.
You might find this odd, but in Mexico many of the best taco and burritos places actually function as a car wash during the day, and serve delicious food once the sun sets. Burritas Crisostomo is open all day though.
Here comes another surprise: you've probably had your fair share of Margaritas. Did you know the Margarita was invented in Ciudad Juarez too?
There are several bars in Mexico that claim to be the birthplace of the Margarita, but only Kentucky Bar has the official certification by the Guiness Book of world records.
You'll also see photos of the man behind it, and if for a few minutes you can imagine how famous stars like John Wayne, Steve McQueen, Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton and Jack Dempsey felt when they were here.
But if you’re looking for a more refined meal visit Hacienda Flor Nogal. From fish tacos to steaks and lambs every dish is amazing and something that any foodie would enjoy. Save room for the dessert and order a few different things to share.
What are Some Fun Things to Do in Ciudad Juarez With Kids?
The dunes in Samalayuca will definitely be a big hit among kids, Casa de Adobe should be fun too, but there are also some fine museums you should definitely check out.
Trepachanga Eco-Adventure Park
This is the only extreme sports park in town and one of the best things to do in Juarez with kids. You’ll find all kind of activities to suit everyone’s desires.
The main attraction here is the thrilling 1,100 meters (!) zip line, but there are also several tracks for all type of vehicles, hanging bridges, paintball and archery fields, rock climbing routes and a botanical garden (if this is what you like I recommend you next visit Copper Canyon, also in Chihuahua).
You won’t get bored here, seriously. Fun is guaranteed for the entire family.
It is one of the largest museums in Latin America and the perfect place to bring your kids to learn in a recreational way about the local culture and environment.
The museum’s facilities include several exhibitions halls, a 3D room, library and a food area.
This lovely outdoor park has extensive green areas, a skating rink, jogging paths, and even a swimming area. The Archeology Museum is located here and showcases various items and paintings from the country’s pre-Hispanic cultures.
This is the perfect place to have memorable family time and learn about the region's culture.
Where to Stay in Ciudad Juarez?
I recommend Hotel Lucerna, and I can’t think of a better hotel in Juarez where to stay at. It’s just 5 minutes away from the U.S. border and has all the amenities you might want including a gym and pool. *Check Rates*
Yet Juarez has its fair share of local and international hotels. If you’re a first time visitor you might prefer to stay in a touristy area, but if you’re a solo traveler, a local neighborhood could be more interesting.
Find Top Hotel Deals
in Ciudad Juarez
Ciudad Juarez has several distinct areas, but the two most popular ones are that closer to the US border and downtown
Some areas have everything you need within walking distance, but the hotels may be more expensive.
How Do I Go from El Paso to Ciudad Juarez?
Driving into Juarez can be quite time consuming so the fastest way is to start from Downtown El Paso and then walk to the border checkpoint.
It takes about 15 minutes and the entrance fee is just $.50.
Is Ciudad Juárez safe?
The bottom line is yes, it’s safer than many U.S. cities. Of course, there are some places to avoid in Juarez, but if you use common sense and follow simple travel tips you’ll be just fine.
Do I need a passport to go to Juarez?
Ciudad Juarez is part of Mexico's border zone, and no visa or passport is required to enter from the United States.
What are the top attractions to visit in Ciudad Juarez?
Explore Centro de Juarez and the surrounding historic buildings, visit Casa de Adobe and the Revolution Museum, stroll around the market, do sand boarding at Samalayuca dunes, and go zip-lining at Trepechanga Eco-Adventure Park. If you have kids don’t forget to visit La Rodadora Museum.
Juarez in the 60’s was the best. So unfortunate for the population to have suffered as they have. Dog racing, golf, restaurants/bars, shopping, just walking the streets was so much fun and are great memories.
Not falling in love with the population is impossible. Today, I would suggest a guided tour. Day travel in Downtown Juarez was fine but I’m not familiar with t the night scene any longer. All you need to know is Buenos Diez, Busenos Nochez and Cerveza.
Hi Roy, thanks for stopping by! I bet it was a great city back then, as was most of Mexico I’d think. But you are right: those three words will go a long way!
In March 2015, my step-daughter is going on a mission trip (with the Christian College she attends) to build homes in Juarez. My husband is a nervous wreck. Do you have any words of reassurance I could give to him? I would greatly appreciate it!
You may have noticed that Ciudad Juarez is no longer in the news, nor has been in the past few years, and knowing how the press likes to blow things out of proportion this is a good indicator of how things are much calmer nowadays. I was there a good two years ago, when CJ was just beginning to calm down, and back then I already felt super safe and walked around without problems, crossing the border to El Paso back and forth very easily. For what it’s worth you show him this article from CNN http://www.cnn.com/2013/01/05/world/americas/mexico-juarez-killings-drop/ (and it’s already 2 years old), and you may also want to call the local tourism board for some insight- they are super friendly and trying hard to restore the name of the city after the tough 2008-2010. Not sure how far you are from there, but if you’re close…why not drop by for a weekend? The city itself doesn’t have much to offer but you can spend a day visiting what I feature here and then heading to El Paso. Hope this helps!
I was just there today for lunch. And I was there yesterday for lunch. I went alone on foot (28 year old male) and felt safe. Just stay clear of the cops if you do see them, as they can be a little intimidating and tend to be carrying large machine guns. Don’t be drunk in public as that will lead to problems. Stay along the busy streets (I only go during the day) and it seems perfectly safe. I enjoyed the food there so much!!
Hey Jason, glad you are enjoying your stay! Those burritos were great IMO, and glad to know you felt safe. Nowadays it’s just like any other city in Mexico, if not safer than a few!
I am planning on going to Juarez early 2015 and this post was so good to read. You pretty much just planned one whole day for me. That food looks amazing also!!!!! And the sand dune photo was awesome. I am going to stay in a hostel for a 2-3 days. Once again awesome post!!!
Hey Nicholas, thanks for dropping by and I’m glad you liked the post!I suppose you checked out the video too? Enjoy Juarez, and the good food!
You are an idiot. Go there enough times and you will discover your premature demise. I find it hard to believe the blatant and random murders have dompletely subsided. Perhaps a lull in activity at best, but I would never take my family there.
Who’s the idiot here? You just ramble away and offer no facts, and you haven’t even been there. I guess you’re one more of those gullible people who believe everything they see on TV.
I love Juarez. Even when the violence was going on here I still crossed over. Maybe not as much. I moved here from El Paso because I feel at home in this Mexican City. I’m learning how to speak Spanish so I can converse with the people here.
Those who love Juarez do so for ever Allen, and you seem to be one of these people 🙂
You are a brave man! Although that burrito might just have gotten me there too.
Anything as long as it makes you cross the border and realize that it’s not unsafe at all!
Burritos are the best!!, there are originally from Juarez 🙂 , I’m from Juarez, been there all my life, and is sad to hear all the bad perception from our city,, thanks to share the reality, that it is.
Most welcome Alonso, I had a great time in your city and enjoyed the burritos very much!
Thanks for promoting our city, I am a from Juarez and we are trying to rebuild our city, next time you’re in J-town please stop by and visit our restaurant, here’s a note they did on our work in Juarez.
Hey Oscar, pity I didn’t know about your restaurant while I was there. I’ll make sure I stop by next time I’m there!
I mentioned your trip to my wife to see what her thoughts were and initially was shock. I am certain that this city’s reputation and tourism is surely affected by the media’s portrayal, but posts like this will surely help rebuild the city’s tourism. If I had an opportunity, I’d definitely go.
I’m not surprised your wife was in shock: Juarez has been in the press for many years for all the wrong reasons and people are not aware that the situation has changed. It might not be the nicest city in the world, but there are definitely enough things to see to spend a day visiting it.
I think I would visit Juarez, not because it’s not so dangerous anymore, but because probably it hasn’t caught on much with tourists yet. And I like that part. 🙂
Very true: there’s basically no tourism now, which is a pity in any case…
Up until now I would have said I would never visit Juarez but you do make me think I should look a little more into it.
Frankly I did not feel unsafe at any moment. It is just like any other city in Mexico, perhaps not too stylish, but gone are the days of widespread violence.
And that tortilla meal looks delightful with that jamaican hibiscus tea. I am a big foodie and love to explore every possible cuisine and I am sure it will be a great start to the day. Your pictures show an amazing side of this place and I get this erge to pay a visit myself. Thanks a lot for sharing your wonderful ex[perience.
I prefer to have these kinds of meals for lunch, but I gave it a shot and had it for breakfast like the locals…
Looks awesome kind of destination…Perfect for the family vacation…thanks a lot for sharing with us..
It is now, even though many people would say- without knowing first hand- that it’s too dangerous for that.
Those sand dunes look AWESOME!
Quite cool huh? I did not there was such a desert in Mexico till recently..
Thanks a lot for sharing such a wonderful experience. I have enjoyed it throughout the post.
You are most welcome Michael, glad you liked it 🙂