Mexico City, The City of Palaces. Best Things to See and Do...
Mexico City is the capital of Mexico. The city is the political, economic and cultural center of the country. Mexico City itself has 9 million inhabitants. The agglomeration of Mexico City, with over 23 million inhabitants, is one of the largest urban areas in the world. Mexico City, better known as Ciudad de México used to have a fairly violent history and unfortunately stories from this time continue to haunt the city. However, Mexico City is a great city that you should not miss when visiting Mexico. Regularly it feels very western, romantic and beautiful. The city has a lot to offer, you can easily spend a week here. The best areas to stay are:
Condesa is a really beautiful neighborhood and our favorite. It is beautifully green here, the streets are wide. Many parks provide a relaxed atmosphere, and there is no shortage of restaurants, bars and boutiques. There are also many colonial buildings and atmospheric elements in the streetscape. This district is wonderfully quiet, but has a lot to offer in terms of culinary delights.
Roma Norte is the place where we stayed. It is the closest to the city center of all our favorite neighborhoods. Roma Norte is also the culinary and artistic center of Mexico City. A neighborhood full of hipsters on bicycles and more and more young professionals. On the main artery Avenida Álvaro Obregón there are all kinds of restaurants and terraces. Many old buildings have now been refurbished and provide a beautiful atmosphere.
Roma Sur is the quiet counterpart of the trendy Roma Norte district. Mainly working-class families and immigrants from Central and South America live here. The tree-lined streets with traditional food stalls and casual cafés are bustling with activity. At the huge Mercado de Medellín you will find typical Latin American products that are also used in the many Latin American restaurants in the district.
In addition to the above districts, you can also choose to stay in the city center of Mexico City where many highlights are located. However, it is very busy here, so we advise you to visit the city center from one of the above-mentioned districts.
The same goes for the great neighborhood of Coyoacán, this is a beautiful neighborhood in the south of the city. However, this is very far away from all the hottspots of Mexico City, so we advise you to visit this district from one of the above-mentioned districts. Coyoacán is easy to visit from downtown by Metro.
Mexico City is a very modern city with a very well-functioning Metro system. We visited everything ourselves with this Metro and explored a large part of the city on foot. To use the Metro, you need to get a public transport pass and top it up with cash. A ride by Metro is very cheap and costs 5 Pesos per person. All stations have their own logo (Coyote, Bicycle, Wasp) which makes navigation very easy.
Another very nice way to explore the city is by Hop-on-Hop-off Bus. These are wonderful double-decker, open-top buses, so you can enjoy the area in the Mexican sun. The Mexico City Tour buses have four different Hop-on Hop-off routes, where you will be able to discover everything this great city has to offer: historic city center route, south route, Polanco horse track-Chapultepec route and the basilica route. Every route will take you to the best sightseeing spots. The buses run approximately every 20 minutes and run daily from 9am to 9pm. A day ticket costs 160 Pesos per person.
Best Things to See and Do:
Mexico City has so much to offer that it is wise to do a good preparation and to make a nice selection of the best hotspots. For example, there are already more than 150 Museums in Mexico City. As you can see, good preparation is half the battle. Our favorite hot spots in Mexico City were:
Visit the beautiful Palace of Chapultepec:
Built in 1785, Chapultepec Palace has been a viceroyal, imperial, and presidential residence. Dramatic events took place there in 1847 during the Battle of Chapultepec in the Mexican-American War. The Niños Héroes lost their lives in that battle and are honored in this park to this day. Until 1935, this palace was used as a presidential residence. After that, since 1944, it houses the National Historical Museum.
The beauty of this palace is that it has been perfectly preserved, the rooms are still furnished as when the last president lived in it. Old furniture, stylish rooms and the Palace itself in Baroque style make a big impression. This is one of the most beautiful monuments in Mexico City. Entrance is 90 Pesos per person. Opening hours are from 9am to 5pm. Closed on Mondays.
Experience Mexican culture at the museo nacional de anthropología:
The National Museum of Anthropology is the most beautiful museum in Mexico. Like the Palace of Chapultepec, the museum is located in Chapultepec Park in the west of the city. The museum is huge with 23 rooms with a total area of about 80,000 square meters. If you want to take it all in, you can easily enjoy yourself here for a day.
The Anthropology Museum is dedicated to all major periods of Mexican history. It contains a lot of important historical masterpieces. It is also nice that many rooms highlight their own historical time in history. A visit to this museum is a real journey through time. Opening hours from 9am to 5pm. Museum is closed on Mondays. Free for children under 13 and free on Sundays for residents from Mexico, which means that Sundays are busy. Other visitors pay 90 Pesos per person.
Experience the atmosphere of Mexican wrestling in the Arena México:
If you want to taste Mexican atmosphere, there is really no better place than in the Arena México. Here you can enjoy an evening of Mexican wrestling, better known as Lucha libre. About 5 matches take place in one evening. Sometimes one against one, but also group against group. It is accompanied by the necessary humor, and Midgets dressed in animal costumes contribute to this. Food and drinks are available, a bottle of beer costs 50 Pesos. Tickets can be purchased online, as well as at the stadium itself, open after 11am. Prices depend on the ring where you want to sit. We paid 200 Pesos per person for a podium place.
The best culinary market in Mexico City:
The San Juan Market is a traditional Mexican market located in the historic center of Mexico City. In our opinion, this is the best culinary market in Mexico City. It is the city's only market specializing in gourmet and exotic foods. You see the strangest things passing by, from many types of insects to freshly slaughtered crocodile. But you've also come to the right place for a delicious sandwich with a glass of wine.
In addition to the above market, the Mercado Roma in the Roma district is also a very nice market. This market has a DJ, many alcoholic beverages and the tastiest foods. Moreover, this is a meeting place for backpackers and travelers.
Visit the House of Tiles:
The House of Tiles, more commonly known as the Casa de los Azulejos, is an 18th-century Baroque palace in the center of Mexico City. The building is distinguished by its facade, which is covered on three sides with blue and white colonial Talavera tiles from the state of Puebla. The house now serves as a restaurant. The outer facade is completely covered with tiles and is incredibly beautiful, so be sure to walk by.
Spot Coyotes in the Coyoacán neighborhood:
South of the city is the beautiful district of Coyoacán. This district was independent from Mexico City until the middle of the last century, but is now involved in Mexico City due to the enormous growth of the city. Coyoacán is known for its cobbled streets and colonial architecture. You also have the nicest shops, streets and lively markets here.
Coyoacán is easily accessible by metro via the Indios Verdes-Universidad metro line. Get off at metro station "Coyoacan". It is nice to look for the symbol of this district, the Coyote, during a visit to Coyoacán. You can find it everywhere, which makes for many fun moments while spotting. From street signs to benches to house number plates, the Coyote is never far away.
Light a candle in one of the many beautiful churches:
Mexico City is full of the most beautiful churches so walk in if you pass by. Which is the most beautiful depends on taste. We ourselves thought the Inglesia de San Francisco was beautiful. Huge paintings along the walls provide a nice contrast to the abundance of gold. But in addition to this church, the other churches are also worth a look, and it is always good to say a prayer or light a candle for your loved ones.
Visit the free Museo del Estanquillo:
In the center of Mexico you can visit the nice Museo del Estanquillo, better known as "Museum of the Little Shop". The museum houses the personal collection of the writer Carlos Monsivais. But in addition, there were now also 2 floors dedicated to the Mexican legendary wrestler "Bleu Demon".
The museum consists of 3 floors, but above that is a huge roof terrace with a beautiful view of the city. Definitely worth the effort to enjoy the peace, the view and a cool drink here. The museum is free to enter.
See the Historic Synagogue Justo Sierra:
Also in the center of the city you can visit the Justo Sierra Synagogue. Wonderful to visit a Jewish Synagogue in contrast to the Christian churches of the city. A special detail is that this synagogue was built in 1941, during the Second World War, for Orthodox Jewish immigrants from Poland, Russia and Lithuania. You will receive a folder with information on arrival. Entrance is free, but a voluntary contribution is welcome.
Visit the Frida Kahlo Museum:
In the southern district of Coyoacán is the famous Frida Kahlo Museum. Also known as the Blue House, this museum is a historic house museum and art museum dedicated to the life and work of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. In 1957, husband Diego Rivera donated the house and its contents to be turned into a museum in Frida's honor. Since this is the most popular destination in the Coyoacán district, it is wise to go early. When we were there in the afternoon there were huge queues, so we did not go inside. Entrance fee for foreigners is 250 Pesos from Monday to Friday, and 270 Pesos on Saturdays and Sundays.
Experience different culture in Chinatown:
In the center of Mexico City is Barrio Chino, popularly known as Chinatown. The neighborhood consists of a few Chinese restaurants and businesses that import goods. Nice to see the contrast here between Mexico City and Chinatown with its Chinese atmosphere and Asian elements. The neighborhood consists of approximately 3,000 families with Chinese heritage in Mexico City.
Shop for souvenirs at the many markets:
For many visitors, Mexico City is Mexico's first or last destination. If this is your last destination, it is always nice to stock up on some souvenirs. Fortunately, there is a lot of choice, and the best place is at one of the many souvenir markets. Our favorite market was the Mercado de Artesanías La Ciudadela. But other markets such as Mercado de Medellin, Mercado de Coyoacán or Bazar el Artesano Mexicano are also worth a visit.
Palacio de Bellas Artes:
The Palacio de Bellas Artes also known as Palace of Fine Arts is a Mexico City landmark. The beautiful building was begun in 1904, but was not completed until 1934. The exterior is Art Nouveau, but the interior, completed later, is more Art Deco. The building houses a theater and gallery space. Murals by Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siqueiros and others decorate the inside. This is a beautiful and famous monument in the center of Mexico and very important for the cityscape of Mexico City.
Visit the Historic Templo Mayor:
Right in the center of Mexico City next to the huge Zócalo square is the Templo Mayor. Prior to the arrival of the Spanish Conquistadors much of Mexico was under the control of the Aztec Empire. The city of Tenochtitlan was at the heart of this massive empire, and with an estimated population of a quarter of a million inhabitants Tenochtitlan would have been one of the largest cities in the world when the Spanish arrived. Today all that remains visible of this vibrant metropolis are the ruins of the city's great temple, El Templo Mayor. Open from Tuesday to Sunday from 9am to 5pm. Entrance fee is 85 Pesos and includes the admission to the museum and the archaeological site.
Relax in one of the many parks:
Mexico City is very green with lots of vegetation and parks. These parks are important to relax from time to time in the busy and hot city. Most parks have benches to sit on, plenty of food and souvenir stalls, and often free Wi-Fi. Our favorite park was the Chapultepec park in the west of the city. This park is huge with some of the most beautiful tourist attractions.
Check out the Monumento a los Niños Héroes:
In the park mentioned above is also the huge Monumento a los Niños Héroes. The Niños Héroes (Children of Heroes) were six young cadets who died in September 1847 while defending Chapultepec during the American-Mexican War.Their officers had ordered them to retreat, but they decided to stay and defend Chapultepec to their last breath. They all died in the process. According to legend, the last survivor wrapped himself in the Mexican flag and jumped off the roof, to avoid falling into the hands of American troops. This monument is in a beautiful location and is definitely worth a visit given its important history.