Movies and TV shows have given Mexico City a bad rap, but it’s both outdated and undeserved. Mexico City has the food, attractions, and history to rival or outshine any other major world city. But it also has way more than that. Here’s a quick ode to Mexico City—a place I could easily write about for years and never get tired of.
Mexico City In Five Neighborhoods
If you have the option when you arrive, take a short drive around Centro Historico, the—as it sounds—historic center of the history. And then visit again during the day and take advantage of the many historic attractions. What you learn will give you a jumping-off point to explore the rest of the city. Spend an afternoon-into-evening in the vibrant and artsy neighborhood of Coyoacan, which Frida Kahlo called home.
Two great neighborhoods to stay in flank each other: Roma and Condesa are both full of hip bars, delicious restaurants, and affordable Airbnbs. And, for a glimpse of how the 1% live, visit Polanco—home to luxurious shopping and world-renowned restaurants.
Mexico City In Five Meals
Mexico City is the best food city going. Prove me wrong. Start the day with a coffee and a pastry at the quaint Panaderia Rosetta. Try the guava and cheese pastry and thank me later. In Mexico City, the biggest meal of the day is typically a late lunch, so book a 2 pm reservation at the legendary Contramar, beloved for its fish and seafood. The must-trys here are the fish done two ways and the tuna tostadas.
Next, kill some time and rest your feet by having a margarita on the Hotel Condesa rooftop or in the bar one floor below the top at the Torre Latinoamerica. While they charge tourist prices, it’s still significantly cheaper than elsewhere in the US or Canada and you’ll get to enjoy the view. When you’re hungry again, it’s time for tacos. Hit up whatever taco truck has a decent lineup, or try the bustling Tacos Orinoco.
If you’re still standing and looking for a romantic yet hip atmosphere, Bosforo in the Centro is a cute, small candlelit spot with great cocktails, mezcal, and Oaxacan food.
Mexico City In Five Activities
A visit to the giant Bosque de Chapultepec park can easily take up a whole day. Heck, even two. It’s massive, and houses a number of museums, including the gigantic Museo Antropologia and the impressive Chapultepec Castle—both must-sees. Aside from that, there are numerous other activities and attractions within the park.
The markets are not only fun, they’re a feast for the eyes. There’s a lot of overlaps in the products they sell, but La Ciudadela and La Merced are two of the most popular ones. As mentioned earlier, Coyoacan is a great place to spend a day, and your first stop has to be the Museo Frida Kahlo, AKA the Casa Azul. Kahlo was born there, grew up there, and lived there for many years as an adult. The house is now a breathtaking tribute to her life and work.
Lucha libre is 1,000 times more fun than it looks—and it already looks pretty fun. Make a night out of it and remove the stress from ticket-buying/getting into the venue by booking a street tacos and lucha tour with Tannia and Juan Carlos through Airbnb. They’re absolutely incredible. Hiring a guide is actually a great idea for many activities in Mexico as a whole.
If you’re going to make the trek to the pyramids at Teotihuacán, having a guide who understands their history is essential. And if they have a sense of humor and adventure? Even better. Talk to them in advance, but if you can get out to Teotihuacán yourself, “guide to the stars” (we’re talking Katy Perry and the Rolling Stones…at least, according to him) Gorila is a barrel of laughs. You can just do the pyramids themselves and don’t have to say yes to the extras, as they’ll cost more and may involve stops to tourist shops, but he will make every part fun. As always, tip well and often.
Mexico City In Five Tips
The cardinal rules that are easy to forget? Avoid the rainy season. Only drink bottled water and don’t flush your used toilet paper (throw it in the trash). Also, carry change, in case the only bathroom nearby charges. Next? Well, for a gigantic city, Mexico City is surprisingly walkable. It’s easy to get between Centro, Roma, and Condesa.
For further distances, like Coyoacan, Uber is very safe, cheap, and easy. If you want to take a taxi, hire one from a stand instead of flagging one. On that note, the idea of taking a double-decker tourist bus is a no-go for most people, but on my first visit, I found it extremely helpful at giving me a sense of the city’s layout. Plus, it’s slightly more adrenaline-inducing than they intended—there’s lots of tree branch-dodging on that top level.
It may feel unnatural to haggle, but it’s more than acceptable when shopping at the different markets. Give it a try at least once. And finally? Eat fruit, constantly. The variety and freshness is so much better than most other places. At the very least, it’ll offset all the Modelos.