I’ve been to the beaches in Mexico many times, but I had never actually spent quality time in Mexico City…at least not until last year. I booked a last minute flight to Mexico City, and did very little research as far as what to see and expect. And I must say, I was more than pleasantly surprised. I wanted to share why everyone is obsessed with Mexico City right now.
I found this cosmopolitan city just brimming with art, culture, history, and charm! But first, let’s talk safety since I know this is the first thing on people’s minds.
Given the bad rep Mexico as a whole has received due to the corruption and crime, there’s good reason to have an element of caution and fear when visiting Mexico. But generally speaking, the south of Mexico is actually quite safe. Without a doubt there are areas to be avoided, but the most dangerous parts of Mexico are actually the north, close to the US border.
Before booking ANY trip, it is always best to check out the State Department’s travel advisory website for updates on any safety rules and recommendations. Besides that, some safety rules of thumb I always follow are:
- Never walk around at night alone
- Never get intoxicated either alone, or in the company of people I just met
- Wear a zip-able purse and cross it over my shoulders
- Use caution in the metro, especially when it gets super crowded
- Stay in the tourist areas where there are lots of people around
Okay, now that we’re done with that, let’s get to the fun stuff! So what makes Mexico City a destination that I will personally return to again and again?
Why everyone is OBSESSED with Mexico City at the moment…
1. El Centro Historico (Historic Center)
Just strolling through this historic 500-year-old neighborhood is a treat. It is here you’ll find the Zocalo, or main plaza, which is the largest plaza in Latin America. And of course you could never miss the crown jewel of the Zocalo, the Catedral Metropolitana (Metropolitan Cathedral). Adding to the charm are the street musicians and vendors. The Palacio Nacional (National Palace) and Templo Mayor (Main Temple) – just to name a few – are also within close proximity.
2. The Cutting Edge Museums
If you are into museums, then welcome to paradise. With over 150, there is no shortage of museums whatsoever in Mexico City. What’s your preference? Art, history, culture…take your pick. There’s bound to be something that will spark your fancy and you could easily spend your entire trip just shuffling from one museum to the next. For a full list of available museums, check out THIS link.
The Museo Nacional de Antropologia (National Museum of Anthropology), Palacio de Bellas Artes (Palace of Fine Arts), and Chapultepec Castle (houses the National Museum of History) are fan favorites. But honestly, if you just went to admire the architecture of the buildings, you wouldn’t be disappointed.
And don’t forget the downright quirky museums like the Cartoon Museum, Shoe Museum, Pen Museum, and Chile and Tequila Museum.
And for myself, visiting the museum and previous home of the ever popular and world-renowned Mexican artist, Frida Kahlo, was a must see on my itinerary.
Remember museums are closed on Monday.
3. The Vibrant Street Art
The dynamic street art scene in Mexico City has received headlines globally, and it’s not surprising why. Local and international artists alike have made this beautiful capital their canvas, and it’s so exciting to stumble upon them! For some help with exactly where to go, check out HERE and HERE for some spots.
4. The Trendy Cultural Scene
Upon leaving the airport and making the 30-minute drive into Mexico City’s city center, you might be thinking…trendy? This is not trendy. But after driving through miles of ugly urban sprawl, within the city itself you actually find pockets where there is fine architecture, narrow cobblestone streets, and oodles of charm. Between the art galleries, boutiques, and snazzy coffee bars and restaurants, Mexico City offers as much culture and charm as any large European city.
5. The Bustling Markets
Wandering through the markets of Mexico City is like taking a peek into the daily life and fabric of Mexican culture. The markets are all a bit different, and with over 300 to choose from it can be overwhelming to decide where to go. Honestly, you’re more likely to just stumble upon one than plan to go. But to help you decide, below are some of my favorites:
- Mercado La Merced (Mexico City’s largest Market)
- Mercado de Jamaica (Flower market)
- La Ciudadela (Mexican crafts and folk art)
- El Mercado de Ampudia (Traditional Mexican candy)
6. The Booming Gastronomy
Mexican cuisine has more to offer beyond drinking tequila and the famous tacos and guacamole (although being a Southern California girl, there is nothing wrong with tacos and guac!) Not only is Mexico as a whole famed for its gastronomy, the city’s vibrant and innovative chefs have placed its restaurants on the culinary map!
From street food, to hole in the wall digs, to fancy restaurants, Mexico City has something for everyone. For the true foodies out there, I’d highly recommend a Mexican Flavors Gastronomic Tour.
For tips on where to dine, check out THIS article on 12 of the hottest restaurants!
7. The Urban Parks
The many parks around Mexico City create an urban oasis full of beauty and tranquility. My favorites are the found in Rome and Condesa. In Roma, Plaza Luis Cabrera and Plaza Río de Janeiro are great to stroll through.
In Condesa there are also two beautiful parks, Parque Mexico and Parque Espana. Parque Mexico is particularly intriguing as it used to be a horse race track of the Jockey Club of Mexico before being transitioned into it’s current state as a family friendly park.
8. The Teotihuacan Pyramids
Didn’t know there were ancient ruins just outside of Mexico City? Well don’t worry, that’s what I’m here for. These beauties are estimated to be dated around 100 BC, and are one of the largest in Mesoamerica.
They are a treat by themselves, but I would highly recommend a sunrise hot air balloon ride over the pyramids, paired with a guided tour of the ruins. Bookings can be made easily online, through your hotel/hostel staff, or through the tourist locations around the city center.
What’re your favorite things about Mexico City? Let me now in the comments below!
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Tiffany is the creator of the faith-based travel blog, Lavender Vines. What began as a year abroad to “get travel out of her system” before entering the real world, has transpired into a non-stop love affair with…the real world. 54 countries later, she shares her adventures from around the world and back to inspire others to do the same. Follow her journey on her blog, Instagram, and Facebook.