This is the big mercado featured in our One Day in the Life of a Mercado essay, and it is a mind-boggling place. Since the Merced has its own metro, or subway, station, visitors can reach the Merced with a minimum of fuss. Mexico City's subway system is amazingly efficient, safe, and clean -- though it can be mind-bogglingly stuffed during rush hours. Here is how to get to the Merced on the metro.
Mexico City's main hotel zone lies downtown just east of Chapultepec Park, not far from the large avenue called the Paseo de La Reforma. Fortunately, the main metro line serving this area, Linea 1, or Line 1, is also the one with a station in the Merced. The main three stations of Line 1 found in the hotel district are Insurgentes, Sevilla, and Cuauhtémoc. To find a metro station, all you need to do is to ask anyone in the street this question:
Can you please tell me where the metro is? (Puede usted decirme, por favor, donde está el metro?)
At the ticket window you can hold up fingers to show how many tickets you need; the price should be just cents. Once past the turnstiles, if you are in the hotel zone, look for the platform for eastbound trains going toward the end station called Pantitlán. Once aboard, stay on until reaching Merced Station, which comes immediately after Pino Suarez. Exiting the train, look for exit signs (SALIDA), and follow the celery odor up the stairs. You'll have no trouble at all knowing when you have entered the Merced Market.
When you return to your hotel on Line 1, look for the platform for westbound trains going toward the end station called Observatorio.
Of course, the Merced can be reached by beginning in metro stations other than those along Line 1. However, that requires using a map of the metro system for navigation, and maybe changing trains once or twice. Excellent maps of the metro system are mounted in each station and every subway car, and they can be bought at many newspaper stands. Mexico's subway system is very easy to use.
Large bundles and backpacks usually are not permitted on the metro. If you are walking toward a platform, you are male, and an armed policeman stops you, probably you are entering a section of the platform reserved for women; simply look for another entrance onto the platform.
There's no reason to limit your mercado-visiting to Mexico City and surrounding areas. If you're willing to travel a little, you should take a look at our List of Notable Mexican Mercados.