Mexico City Guide
I am Shiva and traveling is something I love to do. With more than 30 countries that I have travelled to so far, Mexico is definitely one of the most colorful places that I have visited. The colors, vibrancy and the Mexican food makes this country a must visit.
But do not take its capital, Mexico City or simply CDMX, just to be a transit city to reach Cancun or the famous pyramids. The city calls for much more than that as there is so much you can do in CDMX.
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Top 10 Things to do In CDMX
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Historical Center of Mexico City or Zocalo is one of the most vibrant historic Centers that I have seen. The extension of Zocalo goes way beyond the set boundaries of the Center. You will not realise when the center actually ends and the surrounding area begins as you will always find the place buzzing with locals and tourists alike; Eating, Drinking, Singing, Shopping or just sitting in one corner of the crowded street playing beautiful music on an instrument of choice.
Golden post office
Not too far from the center, I bumped into the most amazing post office I have seen in my life. The Palacio de Correos de México, also known as the “Correo Mayor” was Built-in 1907. The interiors are adorned with intricate work covered in dazzling gold(not real) including the elevators. You can send out a postcard to your loved ones from this still functional palatial post office.
Frida Kahlo Museum
This quaint museum painted in cobalt blues is enough to take you into a different world. Once you enter the erstwhile home of Frida you realise the brilliance of her creativity and her work. The museum is open from 10 am till 5 pm. More information can be found in the link. https://www.museofridakahlo.org.mx/en/the-blue-house/your-visit/
Now part of CDMX, Coyocan was earlier a separate village. This locality has a Bohemian appeal to it its colonial architecture and the Cobble Stoned streets. You can easily spend a whole day exploring the upscale cafes, some amazing museums, fantastic options to eat and drink or just sitting in the park watching the festivities going around you even without a festival.
When in CDMX, trying the Barbacoa Tacos or Birria is a must. These are specially made tacos that need to be cooked for at least 8 hours before it can be served to you. Most of the major traditional markets or Mercados in Mexico like Mercado De La Merced serve Barbacoa Tacos. Just sit on one of the stalls in the market and enjoy them with a beer!
Located in the picturesque Chapultepec Park, is this colossal castle called Chapultepec Castle which is a site to reckon. Built in the 18th Century this structure had taken many avatars from being a home to a war headquarter to simply an observatory. Visiting this place gives you a unique experience of remnants of all of this in its architecture and design. All in all its half a day well spent when you visit the park and this castle.
Museo Nacional de Antropología
The other most important museum after Frida Kahlo Museum is Museo Nacional de Antropología or the National Museum of Anthropology. The museum hosts the world’s largest collection of ancient Mexican artifacts. Some of the most iconic Mesoamerican artifacts discovered to date can be found in the museum. If you want to understand Mexico’s history, then a visit here is a must. Maybe that is why it is the most visited museum in Mexico!
Patrick Miller Night Club
The eclectic club open only on Fridays looks like a dingy warehouse behind a dark gate. But once you are inside the club it is all dazzle, laser lights and music. With new kinds of music every week, this place remains fresh every time you visit. But if you are looking to experience the Mexican nightlife, this place is highly recommended.
Tequilas and Micheladas
If you are in Mexico and you have not tried the tequilas and the Micheladas then its a trip incomplete I say.
Mexico serves its own Tequila in many different interesting ways. Though mostly served as a shot, many times you will find the shot is mixed with a dash of lemon or even tomato juice with chilli and salt on the edges of the shot glass!
Similarly, you will find many street vendors mixing beer into a glass of spiced up tomato juice or lemon syrup. This traditional drink is known as Michelada! A very refreshing way to have your beer.What say?
Day trip to Puebla
Just 2 hours from CDMX is this sleepy little town known as Puebla. I fell in love with this colourful town. Particularly the ruins of the underground pyramid is something that you would not want to miss. Also the site of El Parian, a stunning artisanal market is a memory I still carry with me. You can end your day with the typically made Mole or Mole Poblano, a very popular dish from Puebla.
What to eat in Mexico city
Mexico is a paradise for food lovers. Yes! For turned vegetarians like me as well!
Although there is a lot of usage of meat in all of the popular Mexican dishes like Tacos, Enchiladas, Mole, Tamale, Tostadas, Chilaquiles, Guacamole; But the good news is that there is hardly any dish which is not available without a vegetarian option. Options with Avocados, Peppers, Tomatoes, Corn, Chiles and even some delicious edible cactus is used in vegetarian versions of these foods.
Cafe De Tacuba in Mexico City is one of the oldest and delectable places to try authentic mexican cuisine. Tamale in Cafe De Tacuba is to die for!
Another authentic dish that is a must try in Mexico City is Barbacoa Tacos or simply Birria. These are specially made Tacos, the meat for which needs to be cooked for 8-12 hours! You will find so many people claiming to serve the best Birria, but Barbacoa Renatos and El Hidalguenese are most highly recommended.
Mexico City Money Saving Tips
Mexico City is full of amazing museums and many of them offer free visiting days. E.g. Museo Nacional De Arte(MUNAL) or the National Art museum offers free entry on Sundays. Keep a lookout for the free days.
If you do not want to splurge on expensive Mexican restaurants but still want to enjoy the local food, keep an eye open for one of the ‘Salon Corona’(A chain of restaurants by Corona Beer Makers) that offers sumptuous Mexican food like Tacos and Enchiladas with local Corona beer.
Visiting the local markets is a great way to soak in the real Mexico City vibe for free. The colourful street markets like Mercado De La Merced, Mercado De San Juan and Mercado Coyoacan not only offer you cheap shopping but also some cheap delectable food stalls to have a delicious meal and cheap beer.
If you like to walk a lot like me then signing up for one of the free walking tours will be a good idea. There are many companies that offer free walking tours around different areas of CDMX.
Mexico City Packing Advice
Mexico City is situated on a plateau and hence the weather in CDMX is slightly colder than the other areas. So carrying a jacket for evenings and mild winter clothings in winters is recommended. Any comfortable walking shoes will suffice, as there is not too much of adventure activity to do around.
For a full in-depth packing guide checkout Claire’s Mexico Packing Guide here
Where to Stay in Mexico City
Being the capital of a large country like Mexico, CDMX is a hub for travelers on business and pleasure alike. Hence the options to stay are abundant and available in all categories from 10$ a day hostels to suites and luxury boutique hotels.
I would recommend you to choose an accommodation near the City Center from where it is very well connected to go to any part of the city by public transport and of course, a lot of attractions worth visiting are at a walking distance.
I stayed at the Regina Hostel located in the Historic Center. The vibrant and colorful hostel is worth staying in budget. It also offers private rooms other than shared dormitories.
How to Get to Mexico City (and how to get around)
CDMX is the only city in Mexico with a metro network and is a well-connected one, but it can get very confusing for a visitor.
Downloading and using the app ‘Mexico City Metro’ will help you plan your routes and train changes better.
That apart, local cabs are the most common and averagely priced option. Whenever I was short on time, I used cabs to move around.
Mexico also has Uber service available now. From the airport you have all the options to reach the City Center, be it a bus, metro or cab. All options are available and very well connected to the airport.
Coworking in Mexico City
Planning on working while in Mexico City?
Mexico City Safety Advice
Is it safe to travel to Mexico? I was told by so many people not to reveal to Mexico as it is unsafe.But I did travel solo to Mexico and the broad answer to the question is an absolute yes!
Of course it is not Switzerland or Norway, hence you need to have basic precautions in place.
Beware of the muggings and do not carry anything too expensive. Avoid traveling alone late at night, check with locals before venturing to unknown areas and establishments and avoid some parts of Mexico which are famous for illicit activities. If you follow these basic precautions, I do not think you will go through any mishaps.
The Best Time To Visit Mexico City
Mexico City is situated on a higher plateau, hence unlike its tropical sister cities, the winters here are chilly and summers are rainy. The peak time to visit is between March to May, but as I always recommend, choosing the shoulder months is always a better option as you get lesser crowds and lower prices.
Namaskar! I am Shiva from India and share the passion of travelling with many of you. I am a very lazy traveller who hates planning too much before a trip and more often than not I end up bumping into some amazing places during my travels because of that which I would have missed normally. I give the credit to my inner voice ‘Shiva’ who kicks my laziness off and guides me during my travels. You can find about this ‘Shiva’ on my blog Shivatells which is created to share my experiences of travels and help fellow travellers save time and effort during theirs.
What to Read in Mexico
Where would we be without the trusty Lonely Planet Mexico book?!? It really is the best all-around guide to Mexico. The only issue I ever have with these books is that often the information can be outdated, but if you want to really explore Mexico, not just the tourist trail version of Mexico then get this book on your Kindle. It’s oftern free if you have a kindle unlimited subscription.
It’s all about the food here in Mexico. Especially in Oaxaca, thought of as the culinary heart of Mexico. This Mexican cookbook is the first true introduction to Oaxacan cuisine by a native family, each dish articulates their story, from Oaxaca to the streets of Los Angeles and beyond.
The book showcases Mexican “soul food” serving up 140 authentic, yet accessible recipes using some of the purest pre-Hispanic and indigenous ingredients available.
As much as I don’t want to perpetuate Mexico’s reputation as a county full of cartels, drugs, and danger. It can’t really be ignored, and I know many people are interested in learning more. So I’ve included Midnight in Mexico on my list of books to read. It’s a true crime book written by a Mexican-American journalist and migration lawyer. It’s about as close to the truth as you can get. Being. journalist here in Mexico is one of the most dangerous arrears you can have. But Corchado is known for never shying away from the truth reporting on government corruption, murders, and the drug cartels of Mexico. In 2007, Corchado received a tip that he could be their next target, he had twenty-four hours to find out if the threat was true…
Are you even alive if you don’t know who Frida Kahlo is? If you are a Friday fan then this is the perfect fictional accompaniment to your Mexican vacation. Especially if you will be visiting Mexico City.
Using several of Frida’s notebooks as inspiration acclaimed Mexican novelist F. G. Haghenbeck was inspired to write this touching fictional account of her life. Through the book, you are taken on a magical ride through this imagined life of Freida
An old, but a goodie! This one is for all of you lovers of romance novels! It’s described as:
“A novel of passion, food, and magic, Like Water For Chocolate is a romantic, poignant tale, touched with moments of magic, graphic earthiness, bittersweet wit – and recipes.”
Forbidden love, family obligations, and seduction by food… what more could you ask for in a novel!
I must confess, my friend Mexico Cassie wrote this book. That doesn’t mean it’s not a bloody brilliant guide to moving to Mexico, because it is. As someone who moved to Mexico there was so much of this book that resonated with me, even though I moved here myself, without a family.
She goes in to great detail about the visa application process and some other notoriously tricky things like trying to buy a car or find a good school for your kids.
If you are considering a move to Merida, or anywhere in Mexico actually this is a great read!