I would use this to get around: Bus. Admittedly, it took me a bit of time to get the hang of the bus system in Cuernavaca but if you speak a bit of Spanish and can read a map, you should be OK. Buses are all shapes and sizes, but they follow a route system (Ruta #2, for example) and have directions/final destinations displayed on little cards in the windshield to help identify themselves to would-be riders. You can always ask the driver if he’s going wherever it is you’d like to end up and he’ll be happy to help you out, as will most folks on the street. The bus costs 6.50 MXN (no need for exact change) and stops kind of anywhere and everywhere. Sometimes you can flag it down, sometimes it totally ignores you. If you aren’t sure where to get off, tell the driver and he’ll stop somewhere handy. There don’t really seem to be any bus stops, per se, so it’s a bit of a gamble but totally worth it if you like mixing with the locals and saving cash. Taxis are readily available, however. There are lots of different companies in town, but I always used Radio Taxi and they were fantastic. Negotiate price before hopping in, though. They can be sneaky…
I would stay here: Hotel Vista Hermosa. Rooms start at around $1200.00 MXN ($100.00 CDN/USD) and are spacious, clean and comfortable. It’s location straddles two sweet neighbourhoods – Vista Hermosa (obviously) and Las Delicias. Within walking distance you’ll find coffee shops, boutiques, a gym, yoga studios, spas, restaurants and anything else your wandering little heart desires. To get into the centre of town, take the bus (Ruta 10). It runs often and is easy to navigate.
I would do this: Wander around the center of town and get a feel for the place. Markets abound, as do shops and cafés, plus there’s a lot of history in Cuernavaca and the museums are worth taking a peek. Most notable, I think, is the home-turned-museum/gallery of Robert Brady. He was an artist from the US who moved to Cuernavaca in 1960 and his estate holds original works by such fellow painters as local favourite Frida Kahlo. Entrance to the museum is only $35 MXN and worth every peso. I’d also recommend attending one of the language schools in Cuernavaca to brush up on your Spanish. I attended Cuernavaca Language School and they were fantastic. My teacher was a total gem, and the school sets up excursions and social events to gather students together for some good, clean, second language fun. Another thing I’d do if I were you is take a side trip to a little puebla called Tepoztlan. Technically, I guess this isn’t something to do in Cuernavaca, but it’s a really great spot and you should go. It’s less than an hour away by bus, which leaves from the centre of town pretty much non-stop all day at a cost of around $20 MXN each way, and it’s just really cool. There’s a pyramid you can climb, nice little boutiques for your shopping pleasure and tons of spots to grab lunch or a cerveza. More than anything, though, the town just feels good. It’s nestled up in the mountains and has a sort of mystical, legendary reputation as being a place of natural healing. Not surprisingly, many of the residents are artists and creative folk who prescribe to alternative or homeopathic treatments for what ails them. A number of years back, they actually united as a town to rally against a proposed golf course that was supposedly meant to be built by Jack Nicklaus. Plans were halted and, to date, there is neither hide nor hair of anything even remotely resembling a world-class golf course in the vicinity. You go, Tepoztlan!
I wouldn’t do this: Take your safety for granted. Cuernavaca used to be a very quiet little retreat from nearby Mexico City. However, in recent years, the whole drug cartel killing people scene has hit town and it’s no longer the safe haven it once was. Guard your valuables, take taxis at night and educate yourself as to the parts of town you should avoid wandering into unintentionally. This is not to say that Cuernavaca is unsafe, but it does warrant taking necessary precautions so as to minimize risk and maximize fun.