Tijuana is the most important border city in Mexico. It’s one of the most important binational metropolitan areas in the world, sharing the border with the United States city of San Diego. Today it has become a cultural reference in Mexico as one of the most visited cities in the country, in addition to being one of the most important maritime ports. It’s considered that Mexican rock was born in Tijuana, and it has been a relevant city for the manufacture and export of beer. There are many activities that you can enjoy, but the most important ones will be highlighted here if you only have 24 hours in Tijuana.
Culture and history in the morning
A typical breakfast is a must in Tijuana. Although sometimes people prefer to have breakfast at one of the many Tijuana hotels available for convenience, a well recommended place is La Casa del Mole Poblano, where you can enjoy the best mole north of the Tropic of Cancer, or some delicious enchiladas or chilaquiles to start the day with energy.
Very close to the restaurant is the Centro Cultural Tijuana (CECUT). This cultural center is the most important in the northeast region, founded in 1982. It holds a wide variety of cultural services, including dance, theater, a museum, an aquarium, an art documentation center, and gardens, in an area of 3.5 hectares.
Among the highlights of CECUT are the Museum of the Californias—a permanent exhibition about the history of California and Baja California—, the IMAX Dome, the international gallery El Cubo, and a performance center. The esplanade hosts important events such as Entijuanarte, one of the most important cultural events in the city. If it’s a place of great interest to visit, it could take all morning, otherwise you can choose only what seems more attractive for only a couple of hours.
To end the morning, the El Popo Market is the best place to find souvenirs and local crafts, as well as delicious local food and ingredients. The huge offer of cultural items goes hand in hand with the history of this place, as it’s the oldest market in Tijuana.
Historic gastronomy and Lucha Libre in the afternoon
Revolucion Avenue has been the most important street in Tijuana since its founding. There are many things to see; statues of historical figures and movie legends; shops; restaurants and late night bars. If your’re hungry, there’s Caesar’s Restaurant, the original inventors of the Caesar salad. This place is of great historical significance, not only for the invention of the famous salad, but for being open and in the same location since 1927.
After eating, you may walk down Revolucion Avenue in order to really experience the city’s culture. This street was the first to be paved in Tijuana in the 1920’s and was developed during the years of prohibition in the United States due to the large number of tourists it began to receive. The historic buildings are innumerable which makes the tour much more enjoyable.
As part of downtown Tijuana’s rescue, Pasaje Gomez and Pasaje Rodriguez were restored. These two hidden gems are cultural spaces in different ways. Pasaje Rodriguez contains murals by local artists, making it a great place to check out Tijuana’s street art. Pasaje Gomez features mainly galleries and cafes more focused on literature.
Finally in the afternoon, you may visit the Museo de la Lucha Libre de Mexico, MULLME (Lucha Libre Museum). This museum exhibits a private collection of more than 6,800 objects related to Lucha Libre. Masks, belts, comics, photographs, and even key chains and piggy banks, and of course, souvenirs. If you like this Mexican tradition of free wrestling, this is a must visit.
Evening: Tijuana’s Beach Sunset
To end the day, there is no better plan than walking along Tijuana’s malecon. Remodeled in 2010, today it’s called Malecon de Playas (boardwalk of beaches). It runs four kilometers (2.5 miles) from Parque Azteca to the United States border. The pedestrian bridges and beautiful views make this an unparalleled walk, especially if done in the afternoon to watch the sunset over the Pacific Ocean. Cafes, restaurants, and great scenery make this boardwalk a perfect place to end the day.
Tijuana is also known for its craft beers, so you shouldn’t end the day without trying a few. The best choices are Plaza Fiesta or TJ Tap House. They make their own beer and of various types, so there is something for everyone. At TJ Tap House you may visit the brewery if you make a reservation in advance.
Finally, enjoy the local gastronomy with any of the street tacos downtown. Tacos are a delicacy anywhere in Mexico, and street food is always a great experience to end the day. Pork belly, arrachera, or seafood are the most typical in Tijuana, but don’t forget to try the tacos al pastor or the fish tacos.