As the hot air ballooning capital of the world, Albuquerque is a high-desert oasis, blending Native American and Spanish culture with an urban overlay. Boasting a vibrant nightlife, authentic New Mexican culinary options and quirky boutiques, Duke City also sits near the Sandia Mountains — inviting visitors to further explore this stunning Southwest region.
Albuquerque’s Eastside is paradise for nature lovers. (Photo: Mark Hollingsworth)…
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WHEN TO GO
Visit Albuquerque in the fall for warm weather, outdoor exploration (bike or walk the Bosque Trail) and an event-packed festival season, including the International Balloon Fiesta in October. The Sandia Mountains draw skiers during the winter months, but try the shoulder seasons of spring and summer for hotel bargains.
NEED TO KNOW
Visas: Travelers from outside the United States will need a valid passport, as well as ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) eligibility or a full visa.
Money:Currency is U.S. dollars and ATMs are widely available. Typically, a gratuity is not added to your restaurant bill, so tip waitstaff accordingly (15 to 25 percent).
Travel Health: Travelers (including U.S. citizens) should check for vaccination, proof of negative COVID-19 test and face mask requirements, as well as any travel restrictions, before planning their trip. Visit Albuquerque and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are the best resources for up-to-date information and guidance. Before traveling, research and prepare for what to do if you get sick while away.
Getting Here: Fly into Albuquerque International Sunport (ABQ), about five miles from the downtown area.
Getting Around: Hop on the city’s public transportation — ABQ RIDE — for reliable bus transportation throughout Albuquerque, and then explore the walkable neighborhoods on foot. The downtown area offers bike-share rentals via BICI, while taxis, car rentals and rideshare services are a better option for exploring outside city limits. The commuter rail network, called New Mexico Rail Runner Express (NMRX), serves the 100-mile Rio Grande corridor and connects to Santa Fe.
Local Lingo: When dining at an Albuquerque restaurant, a server might ask, “Red or green?” This refers to whether you prefer red or green chile when ordering New Mexican cuisine, signifying the importance of the chile industry to New Mexico’s economy. Tip: These chiles are spicy.
Must-Have Apps: Uber; Lyft; zTrip
Insider Tip: Don’t miss historic Old Town to see Albuquerque’s cultural diversity on full display. With 22 Native American tribes throughout New Mexico along with a large Latinx and Hispanic population, Albuquerque’s cultural blend is showcased through the local cuisine, historical sites and museums, and artisan handiwork that make this city such a unique Southwest experience.