Mexico City is an extremely diverse city, and can really be anything you want it to be. From the fascinating Mayan ruins in the center, to the impressive architecture spread out around the rest of the city, and the charming colonial neighborhoods that have been swallowed by the ever-expanding borders, there’s so much to see and do in this fantastic metropolis.
Not to mention the food, which is of course a topic in itself. When it comes to eating out in Mexico City, you’ve got plenty of options; street stalls, taquerias, Michelin star restaurants and family-owned local legends. No trip to Mexico City is complete without discovering the world of food that fuels its friendly and happy people.
Getting To Know Mexico City
Welcome to Mexico City; you’re going to love it here. Check into your hotel, I recommend the Live Aqua Mexico City Hotel or the Hilton Santa Fe and then let’s start off in the center of this gigantic city, where every corner of the main plaza is filled with history and important cultural heritage.
Take the metro Line 2 (blue line) or a taxi to the Zocalo, where you’ll step out into one of the world’s largest city squares. First impressions are everything, and I’m sure you’ll be impressed. With a gigantic Mexican flag soaring above you, you’re ready to start exploring this magnificent plaza.
This plaza has been the most important political and cultural center of Mexico since Aztec times. Today, you’ll find it full of vendors, musicians, tourists and Mexicans going about their day. After taking some time to walk around, head to the grand National Cathedral (Catedral Metropolitana) to the north. Inside is beautiful, with a lot of gold decor at the altar and around the church.
After the Cathedral, head just around the corner to the east to visit the ruins of the Great Temple, ‘El Templo Mayor’. This is a museum that encompasses both an indoor and outdoor section that takes you through the ruins of an ancient pre-Hispanic civilization.
When you’re getting hungry, grab lunch in one of the restaurants surrounding the zocalo for great panoramic views of the plaza.
After lunch, walk 10 minutes west along the pedestrian street Av. Francisco I. Madero to the spectacular Palacio de Bella Artes. This beautiful building, adorned with murals by Mexican artist Diego Rivera, regularly hosts art, music, dance and theatre performances so make sure to check out the schedule for your visit! If there’s no show that takes your fancy, you can still visit the National Museum of Architecture on the top floor.
Parks, Presidents and Paseo de la Reforma
Rise bright and early to head to Chapultepec Forest and Park; the biggest green area in Mexico City with a lot to see and do in the area.
Start at Metro Chapultepec and make your way around the walking trails of the park, visiting sights such as Chapultepec Castle and the Chapultepec Zoo, which is free to enter. Take a stroll around the forest trails and lake before checking out the President’s house!
The park is also home to two of Mexico City’s best museums; the amazing Museo Nacional de Antropologia (National Anthropology Museum), which is a must if you love history and want to learn about Mexican culture. The other is the Museum of Modern Art, also located close to the Anthropology Museum.
If you’re looking for more excitement, the park even has an amusement park with roller coasters to keep your adrenaline rushing!
After the park, start your journey down Paseo de la Reforma, one of the widest and longest avenues in the world. The walk, which is enjoyable in its own right, will take you to the famous Angel de la Independencia (Angel of Independence) built to commemorate the Independence Day of Mexico.
Finish the day by grabbing a taxi to the trendy La Condesa neighborhood for lunch and drinks.
A Day for the Gods
Today you take a tour to the beautiful Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City followed by a trip to the amazing Aztec ruins of Teotihuacan outside the city.
The Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe is world famous for being the location where the Virgin Mary is said to have made an appearance to a local peasant boy and later appeared on his cloak. Since then, the Basilica has been a place of worship and pilgrimage and is one of the most visited locations in all of Latin America!
The old Basilica which is literally falling over, as it continues to tilt to the left, no longer houses the cloak, but it has been moved next door to a new and very modern Basilica.Spend a few hours touring the grounds before heading off to another kind of place of worship; this time from ancient times.
Teotihuacan is from a time before Catholicism came to Mexico; when the Aztecs ruled and Teotihuacan was heralded as a City of Gods. These spectacular pyramids and ancient structures, including the amazing Pyramid of the Sun and Moon, the Butterflies Temple, the Avenue of the Dead and the Temple of Quetzalcoatl, are mind-boggling complex and advanced.
Spend a few hours exploring this amazing site before heading back to Mexico City with your tour bus.
Note: I would recommend to go with Viator Tours as they seem to have very good reviews online, although I personally did these tours independently. Alternatively, spend the entire day at Teotihuacan on a small tour with a private Archeologist.
It’s Taco Time!
It’s about time you discover the amazing food of Mexico; it’s probably unfair that I’ve left it this long but the wait will be worth it!
Today you’re going to experience an amazing food tour that will let you sample the mouth-watering cuisine of Mexico.
Try the Regional Tacos of Mexico Tour, which takes you through the super-cool, upper-class neighborhoods of Condesa and Roma, for a selection of the best tacos from all over Mexico. The guide will explain regional variations with delicious samples from the Yucatan, Guerrero, Puebla, Michoacan and Central Mexico.
Or if you would prefer to sample more types of Mexican food than just tacos, check out this well-reviewed Polanco Food Tour that takes you through the beautiful Polanco neighborhood, known as the ultimate foodie neighborhood of Mexico City.
After your morning food tour, and if you’re not too full to move, stay in Polanco to visit the awesome Soumaya Museum, donated to the city by Mexican billionaire and world’s richest man, Carlos Slim. The buildings’ architecture alone is enough to warrant a visit, but the inside is also fascinating with art and sculptures from famous Mexican and international artists such as Salvador Dali.
Finish the day off with a visit to the Antara Polanco shopping mall for some retail therapy. The mall is beautifully laid out and a great place to spend a relaxed evening shopping or dining (again!).
Floating Gardens and Colonial Mansions
Enjoy a relaxing ride on a traditional ‘trajinera’, an old agricultural boat, through the beautiful floating gardens of Xochimilco for your final day in Mexico City.
This pre-Columbian agricultural city is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as the canals that were built by the Aztecs are almost all still intact.
If you have little time before your return flight, you can visit the floating gardens independently and leave early. However, if you have more time, you can do it with a tour that also includes a visit to the National University of Mexico to see some impressive mural art and sculptures by renowned artist Juan O’Gorman. The tour then finishes the day off by visiting the colonial neighborhood of Coyoacan, which was used as a base during the Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire. The area was once a village separated from Mexico City but has been part of the capital since 1857. It is famous for its many stunning 16th century colonial mansions and buildings.
Museums Galore! If you’re a museum fanatic, there are over 160 museums in Mexico City, the highest number in the world. Best of all, they’re almost all free on Sundays!
Transportation Tip! Taxis in Mexico City are cheap but the traffic can be a nightmare (there’s a reason why the rich take helicopters!). The Metro is the cheapest in the world and has an extensive network of lines serving almost all of the city.
Street Food Don’t be afraid to try street food while you’re there. Street food is great for when you’re on the go, or between meals. You can grab a quick and light taco on the cheap. Just take cues from the locals; if a food stall is busy, it’s usually good!
Top Class Restaurants Mexico City is home to one of the ‘World’s 50 Best Restaurants’, as listed by San Pellegrino. So check out Pujol Restaurant if you’re feeling like splurging.