Festivals and Events, Mexico City

Semana Santa — Tips for Traveling During Easter in Mexico

The two busiest times of the year for travel in Mexico are during Christmas and New Year, and Holy Week—that begins on the weekend of Palm Sunday

Easter Cross held in hands

Easter, in Mexico termed as Semana Santa, or Holy Week, is one of Mexico’s ‘big three’ holidays, alongside Christmas and Día de los Muertos.

Families often take time away together at Easter causing beach destinations and some popular colonial cities become packed with visitors.  Flights and accommodations can be hard to find if not booked in advance, bus stations become remarkably crowded and interstate buses travel full, and delays can be expected when driving on Mexico’s highways, especially near and around major towns and cities.

Easter Holy Week Dates for 2023

Easter Sunday is observed on the first Sunday after the Paschal Full Moon—that is the first Sunday following the Full Moon that occurs on or after the spring equinox in March.

Maundy (Holy) Thursday and Easter Friday fall on April 6th & 7th this year.

Easter Sunday is observed on April 9th.

Easter Week holidays in Mexico traditionally begin the week before Good Friday and extend to the end of the weekend after Easter Sunday.

Mexico’s roads and airports during Easter

Holy Thursday and Good Friday are national holidays in Mexico, and congestion is almost guaranteed on main arterial routes in and out of large cities—especially Mexico City.

Additional care is needed when driving, as traffic snarls can appear around any bend, and there’s a tendency for some drivers to speed on highways expecting them to be quite clear.

Schools across Mexico break for Easter, and many offices and factories close, creating a space for families to take a pause and rest. As with Christmas and New Year, this mass-holiday creates a heavy demand for travel and leisure services within a concentrated period, pushing prices for transport and accommodations much higher than they typically are at other times of the year, with service often of a lower quality, too.

Avoiding the Easter crowds in Mexico

Those with flexible lifestyles and work schedules perhaps ought to consider avoiding travel during the Easter period and elect to take their leisure breaks during the low seasons when crowds are thin and prices lower.

For many, this isn’t possible and is particularly difficult for those whose offices close those weeks; or who have school-age children tied to scholastic calendars.  People with flexible lifestyles who want to visit their families with young children and/or less flexible work arrangements may also become corralled into the crush of the Easter holiday period.

Much is made of international tourism —and rightly so, as Mexico is the world’s 7th-ranked destination for number of international tourists and 17th in foreign tourism receipts— but domestic customers make up a larger portion of Mexico’s overall tourist economy, and this is particularly noticeable during Easter. (Tourism accounts for about 8.5% of the country’s gross domestic product, and three quarters of the value of tourism services is driven by domestic vacationers.)

Mexico City during Easter Week

If your work and lifestyle schedules don’t lend themselves to avoid traveling at Easter and you’d prefer to miss the crowds, consider a visit to the capital and a tour to (re)revisit its famed Anthropology Museum on Paseo de la Reforma, the Chapultepec Castle, or the Soumaya Museum in Polanco.

The exodus from large cities as domestic tourists head for the beach, or to quaint and picturesque colonial towns, makes Easter an ideal time to visit places like Mexico City, with its historic attractions, myriad of museums, and other entertainment venues. Traffic in the capital during Easter week is generally light, making travel around the metropolis quicker and less stressful.

The historical downtown district of Mexico City is particularly pleasant during Holy Week, as the crowds are manageable, and the weather is fine—warm, with not much rain likely. When Easter comes early, it’s even possible to catch the lilac splendor of the Jacaranda trees which may still be in flower.

Tips for traveling during Easter Week in Mexico

If you intend to travel during the Easter period in Mexico, here are some key tips to help with your planning.

Lodgings and accommodation

Whether you intend to stay at a BnB, a beach resort or other hotel, we recommend that you reserve your Easter holiday lodgings well ahead of time.  The best accommodations book up early during Easter Week, and advance bookings are essential to ensure that you can secure space at the accommodations of your choice, especially in Mexico’s most popular destinations. Expect rates during Easter Week to be materially higher by comparison to mid- and low-season prices.

Roads and highways

If you plan to drive your car in Mexico during Easter week, be mindful that congestion on roads will be noticeable, especially around the capital and other cities—places from which hoards of people take to the road just before Easter and then return to just before the holiday finishes. Lines of traffic leading up to toll booths on major highways can extend back for miles in some places at the start and end of the holiday period.  Exercise additional precautions when driving, allowing extra time and being patient on your journey.

  • Be sure that your vehicle is properly insured if you intend to bring your US or Canadian-plated vehicle to Mexico
  • Allow extra time for your journey, regulate your speed, and keep plenty of distance between your vehicle and others to avoid accidents typically caused by congestion
  • Be extra vigilant regarding the security of your vehicle and its contents while you’re traveling
  • Download our free eBook Guide to Driving and Road Trips in Mexico that’s packed with helpful and advice about tips for driving in Mexico, including security and dealing with accidents.

Airports and flights

Build-in additional time to get to and from the airports you are using, as well additional time to check-in and get through security and immigration. Crowds at airports swell noticeably during Easter Week and everything takes a little longer to accomplish. Be prepared for possible flight delays, too.

Bus stations and bus seats

During most of the year, you can turn up at a bus station in Mexico, and be almost guaranteed a seat on the next bus out to your intended destination.  During Easter Week, this is not so.  Advance seat booking is essential, and bus stations —especially so but not exclusively in Mexico City —become exceptionally crowded. If you intend to travel by bus during Easter, book your seats ahead of time, arrive at the bus station early, and be prepared to negotiate big crowds and deal with long lines as you make your way to the boarding platforms.

Be extra vigilant with your belongings

Crowded places during peak holiday periods provide ideal conditions for pickpockets, bag-snatchers, and car thieves to operate.  Be especially careful at bus stations and airports, and don’t leave your car unattended when you call-in at highway gas stations and to make convenience stops.  Download our free eBook guide to driving in Mexico for detailed information about security on your road trip.

When you’re traveling, keep your bags and personal belongings close, be especially mindful of your handbags, wallets, and technology devices; and dress down—leave your expensive jewelry at home.

Leaving your home in Mexico unattended at Easter

If you live in Mexico and intend to vacate your home during the Easter period, take appropriate measures to secure your vacant house, as burglars can be mindful that owners may leave for the holiday.

One of the best ways to secure your home when you’re away for an extended period is to have a friend or family member housesit while you’re gone.

A home insurance policy will cover you in the event of certain losses due to burglary and vandalism.  Read our article about preventing home burglaries in Mexico for more details and practical advice.

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