Why You Should Absolutely Visit Mexico City (CDMX): A Guide
Mexico City will always have a special place in my heart. It’s the: vibrant streets lined with trees; the weekends filled with good food, markets, shopping, music and culture; the many affordable activities to partake in; the vast size of the city; the parks and outside activities.
As far as Metropolitan cities go near the United States, I’d say Mexico City takes the cake. It has both an artful and European vibe, and offers a lot of variety in terms of neighborhoods and lifestyle. If you’re from the United States, your dollar will go far here; and flights are affordable (less than $300/RT from New York City for example).
Some of the best food I’ve ever had the pleasure of having has been in Mexico. I actually think Oaxaca is a food lovers’ paradise, but Mexico City comes in soon after. There are many excellent restaurants here, where both the food and cocktails are almost works of art.
Some of my favorite higher-end restaurants in Mexico City for a special night out are: La Casa de las Sirenas, Azul Historico, Azul Condesa, Máximo Bistrot & Mog Bistrot. On average I’d say you could have a shared appetizer, dinner entree and a cocktail for less than $25/person at these places. Even though I haven’t eaten there yet, Pujol gets a special mention here because it was featured on Netflix’s Chef’s Table. If you want to experience Pujol, make a reservation very far in advance!
Cheap eats are gonna be found as street and mercado food! Don’t be afraid of street food here. If it looks and smells good, it probably is. I’d recommend having traditional mexican street food and avoid things like hot dogs (which are better back in the US anyways). Mango on a stick with lime and chili powder is always great. If you can find Dorilocos, try them just for the experience! Elote and Esquite are corn on the cob or corn in a cup, both with mayonnaise, chili powder and cheese. If you see any indoor or outdoor markets/flea markets/fairs, do yourself a favor and check it out. Most likely you’ll find fresh fruit and veggies, and interesting snacks to try.
I can’t totally speak for the nightlife scene in Mexico, but there are many establishments where you can have a great drink or two or three. On average, beer here is less than $3 a bottle. On average, a margarita here is less than $5 a drink. Both can be a bit more if you’re going the hipster craft beer/cocktail route.
Some interesting spots worth checking out are: Pulquería Los Insurgentes, Departamento, Licorería Limantour & Gin Gin, Biergarten Roma. But the best spots might be the ones you just stumble across spontaneously!
Sightseeing & Activities
You could spend an entire weekend exploring what the Bosque de Chapultepec has to offer. Just in this one park alone you’ll find: National Museum of Anthropology, Chapultepec Zoo, Museo Nacional de Historia, Chapultepec Castle (yes it’s a real castle!), Museo de Arte Moderno, boat rides on a lake and watching live performances.
I’d also recommend visiting the ancient Aztec pyramids in Teotihuacan. You could go on a tour, or just take a bus from the Autobuses del Norte station for about $5 dollars round-trip. Plan for a long day, bring lots of sunscreen and water! Food and snacks can be found just outside the entrance.
You won’t want to miss seeing a Lucha Libre fight while you’re in town! It’s a fun way to spend the night, with cheap beer, popcorn, and fighters throwing each other across the ring.
Some other notable places in Mexico City you’ll want to see and visit are:
- Palacio Postal: Perhaps the biggest and most beautiful post office in Mexico. Nice collection of mailboxes on disply in the lobby as well.
- Xochimilco: Floating Gardens about an hour outside of the city. Makes for a nice day trip!
- Zocalo: The city’s center square.
- Casa Azul (Frida Kahlo Museum)
- Plaza de las Tres Culturas: Aztec ruins in the middle of this bustling city.
- Museo Soumaya: Free admission, interesting collections.
- Museo Nacional de Arte: Large art museum!
- Torre Latinoamericana: Have a drink at the top of this expansive skyscraper.
- Plaza Garibaldi: Have a mariachi band serenade you here but be careful with your surroundings!
I personally have seen some of these places and many others with those hop-off hop-on double decker tour buses. A ticket for 1 person is less than $10 USD, which I feel like is a good value if you’re short on time!
Personally, one of the more interesting things for me about Mexico City is the shopping scene. There’s high end stores, normal malls, street mercados (markets) every weekend, and eclectic stores with interesting hipster vibes. On the weekends, many flock to the famous mercados throughout the city. Some are even themed: flowers, wholesale, vintage, etc. These are both indoor and outdoor flea markets with fresh fruits and veggies, international foods, packaging materials, snacks, crafts, beauty supplies – and literally anything else you can think of! Some of my favorites are:
- La Ciudadela (beautiful crafts and gifts)
- Mercado de Cuauhtémoc (vintage, satudays and sundays)
- Mercado de Coyoacan (fresh food, spices, nuts, etc)
- Mercado de Artesanías de Coyoacán (gifts, handicrafts)
I hope you’re inspired to visit Mexico City!
I can’t say Mexico is this perfect utopia. Locals complain of corruption, the police aren’t very helpful, and there is a huge class divide here between those making very little money and those who are middle class. Safety wise, just be aware of your surroundings and practice common sense street smarts!
But at the end of the day, Mexico City is oozing with rich and deep culture, through it’s food, architecture, people, and ancient ruins. There’s always something new to experience, no matter how many times I keep coming back. That’s something really special that is worth making the trip for. I personally have enjoyed every minute of my time here.