If you are looking to have a truly indie experience in Mexico City, be sure to follow these tips.
- If you’re young (or young at heart) and into music, then check out the Mercado El Chopo on Saturday nights.
- See the first murals of Diego Rivera in the Secretaria de Educacion Publica. They cover an area of over 17,000 square feet!
- Check out any number of museums as Mexico City has the largest number of museums in the world, just ahead of New York and London.
- The city is full of plazas and parks in the various neighborhoods, so if you are looking to hang out somewhere nice away from the chaos, you’ll have no shortage of places to do it in.
- Check out a mariachi band in the street somewhere. Your trip is not complete without it!
Why you should add Mexico City to your RTW travel list
- Over 12 million people make it the biggest city in the world – welcome
- Home to the ancient Aztecs
- Visit the home of Aztec nobles at Bosque de Chapultepec
- Wander the historic center of Zócalo and the Aztec temple in Templo Mayor
- Also see the Museo Nacional de Arte and the Spanish Catedral Metropolitana
- Forget about the doom and gloom you’ve heard from the media. Mexico City is just as safe as any other huge metropolitan area in the world.
- The street food. YUM! The street food.
Why you should not add Mexico City to your RTW travel list
- It’s huge with tons of people and quite a bit of pollution.
- It can be difficult to get around, especially if you don’t speak Spanish.
Anyone who has been only to one of the Mexico border towns or one of its many beach resort towns will be in for a shock when they arrive in Mexico City. This is a gigantic sprawling city with over 20 million people in the metropolitan area. Sure, there are slums, but there are also upscale neighborhoods of shocking wealth.
The elevation of around 2,200 meters above sea level may take some getting used to, so plan to acclimate for a few hours once you arrive. Most of the things of interest to visitors are bunched together in the center of the city, so this is an easier place to appreciate than many others that just go on and on, like Los Angeles for example. The Distrito Federal (Federal District) covers much of the city, and this is like Washington DC in that it’s a place reserved for the national capital and isn’t in another state of its own. Within the DF there are 16 delegaciones, which are like cities within a city. Most of the major attractions are concentrated in the few central delegacioned.
What to do
The Centro Historico is where you’ll find the Plaza de la Constitucion, which is a huge square that dominates the oldest part of Mexico City. The city hall and a cathedral both overlook the square, and this is one of the most impressive parts of the city for its colonial and European architecture mixed with a few modern influences. The entire district in a UNESCO World Heritage Site as of 1987.
The Angel de la Independencia is another of the city’s most popular landmarks. This elevated statue in the modern Zona Rosa district dates back to 1910 and overlooks a roundabout in the heart of the city’s most notorious entertainment district. In a capital city of this size it should be no surprise that there are a huge variety of museums, cathedrals, and parks from which to choose, but the nightlife is also legendary as being some of the best in all of Latin America.
Unless you are already nearby you’ll want to book a flight into Benito Juarez International Airport (code: MEX), which is the largest airport in the country and where most passengers to the area will arrive. It’s a large and modern airport and it’s served by most large cities in the Western Hemisphere as well as many European capitals as well. Taxis from the airport into the city center can be reasonably priced, but if your budget is tight you can take the metro for next to nothing.
Where to stay
Needless to say, there are hundreds of hotels in Mexico City, and they come in all price ranges. The Centro Historico district is home to the most popular budget hotels for backpackers and others looking for value, while the Polanco district is the place of more upscale digs. There are quite a few hostels in Mexico City as well, with most again being concentrated in the Centro Historico.