Mexico City: “The metropolis that has it all” (The New York Times, 2016)
We were born in this City, founded 691 years ago in the Anahuac Valley, a place with a high altitude, that makes it both isolated and promt to earthquakes, and considered by the Aztec culture as the center of the world.
In time, and thanks to its privileged geopolitical situation (Mexico City`s altitude is 2240 meters above the sea level), Tenochtitlan became one of the most important cities in Mesoamerica and expanded so much it had 2 thousand habitants per square kilometer. Today the city is full; we are 5,961 citizens per square kilometer (INEGI, 2015) living side by side in only 0.07% of the national territory.
Altogether, Mexico City´s population is 8 918 653 habitants. Nevertheless, if we also consider the Metropolitan area of Mexico City, we are a population of more than 21 million inhabitants, what makes Mexico City as the second largest city in the world, just after Tokio.
In all these years, the city has grown and transformed in such a way that, our grandparents say (melancholically): sometimes you miss being able to count from the window the cars riding down the avenues.
But that yearning has not fully reached the new generations: Mexico city is still what Carlos Monsivais, writer and chronicler, relates about our urban nucleus: “rubbing bodies in the subway, the historic deposit of smells and sorrows (…), taxi drivers blessing themselves when passing in front of a temple, the joyful and frightened incursion into the nightlife” and it is, also, a time of prosperity in many ways, because there is a resurgence of the interest in our cultural heritage, to create a “new” Mexico inspired in the same as ever.
And it has a lot to do with who we are today and how proud are we about it, recovering our roots and telling the world about all that “Mexicaness”.
ARE YOU PLANNING TO TRAVEL TO MEXICO CITY?
Yes, it is true that you also must visit the Mexican beaches; but the City – the capital of XXI Century- is one of the best kept secrets of the country and you cannot miss it. If you are planning to travel to Mexico City, here are the basic Mexico City travel tips:
Weather in Mexico City
In general, Mexico City`s temperature is very stable, hence you are welcome to visit at any given time of the year (We register temperatures between 16.66°C mean, with maximum temp of 28°C/50 to 70°F on average). Mornings and afternoons are fresh, and you can feel the heat, mostly, by noon.
September is usually a rainy month, but it is also the Independence month, and it is worth to visit Mexico in this season.
Mexico City Time Zone
Center Time: UTC – 6 (UTC – 5 in summer)
Here you can check here the current timetable.
Travel to Mexico City / How to get to Mexico City
The International Airport Benito Juarez counts with the Terminals T1 and T2. Both of them have arrivals and departures both national and international.
Taking a taxi from the airport to your hotel, costs about $275 pesos ($15 USD), depending on the location you are heading.
*Mexico City Travel Tips: Another option is to take the Metrobus, which departs from both terminals: Terminal 1 (Gate 7), Terminal 2 (Gate 2), or, line 5 of the subway (Metro) near to terminal 1. The Metrobus card costs 10 MXN and you can reload it as many times as you like in the automatic machines in the airport or in the Metrobus stations. If you’ve got Internet, the most practical option is to call an Uber or Yaxi.
Transport in Mexico City
Due to the traffic and the floods of people, you have to take into account that Mexico City may be overwhelming for some travelers, especially in certain areas such as Zocalo (Historic Downtown). However, there are many styles of transportation, which are both efficient and cheap. (And believe us, a visit to Mexico City is not quite complete without the experience of traveling in public transportation!).
The subway in Mexico is the cheapest in the world. You can buy individual tickets ($5 MXN// less than $.5 USD) or a reloadable card in all the stations.
*Mexico City Travel Tips:
– Each line has a determined color, and each station, in addition of a name, has an icon of a representative image of the area.
– Avoid peak hours: 7 to 9 am and 6 to 8 pm.
The taxis are also cheap, but take into account that SITIO taxis –usually recommended for tourists- are two or three times more expensive than the regular ones you take in any given corner of the city.
*Mexico City Travel Tips:
You can use the App TaxiAviso to know if your taxi is legitimate and to meet the driver before you get in the vehicle.
The original program used to request a valid Mexican ID, but nowadays it`s available to anyone who would like to use it. You only need an ID and Visa or Mastercard. You can buy a card for one or three days or a week. This is the link to their website, to know the Ecobici stations in Mexico City.
*Mexico City Travel Tips:
If you rent a car to visit other destinations through the country, be sure to drive only on the nation’s toll (“cuota”) highway system, which offers the safest conditions to travel.
Mexico City maps
If you are not well acquainted with our country, and seek to know exactly where is Mexico City and how each area is distributed, we place here a downloadable map, with additional information that we hope you´ll find very helpful.
THINGS TO DO IN MEXICO CITY
Mexico City has a… particular order, which some might find chaotic. We won´t lie about it; it is precisely that chaos what makes the city extraordinary. Here, between everyday events and surprises, it is impossible to get bored. The City has its own energy and it even has its own sound: the announcement of the merchants, the noise of the cars, the sound of the organ grinders in the streets.
For many artists, the chaos is fed by inherent creativity and, for this reason, since forever, Mexico has had a powerful attraction effect on both it`s citizens and travelers who take a profound glance at the local gastronomic offer and high cuisine, the museums and the new design proposals from the City.
As a matter of fact, to get to know Mexico City it is necessary to soak it all in: stroll in it, listen to it, and taste it, because this big city is, actually, many cities in one: an explosion of diversity, contrasts, characters and different stories at all times, and the sum of cultures and architectonic styles, where also cohabit, side by side, the antique and the modern.
If this is your first time here, and you are looking for the top attractions in Mexico City, here’s a not too overwhelming, but selective list: a mini Mexico City travel guide, which will allow you to know all the Mexico City attractions must see.
MEXICO CITY FACTS
- Mexico City was built over a lake named Texcoco.
- Mexico City has had plenty of nicknames, among them “The City of Palaces”.
- The subway in Mexico City is the biggest one in Latinamerica and the cheapest in the world.
- Mexico City has the largest number of museums in the whole world, with over 160.
- Mexico City is the home of the oldest University in America; Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) * A top attraction on it`s own.
Mexico City top attractions
Archeological area of Teotihuacan. (Aztec ruins)
Teotihuacan was once the official power center for one of the most influent Mesoamerican societies in matter of politics, economics, commerce, religion and culture.
Torre Latinoamericana (Latinamerican Tower)
Although it’s not the tallest building in Mexico City, the 44th floor of the Tower offers one of the best sights of the City.
This neighborhood is home of artists and intellectuals. Here you`ll find Frida Kahlo museum, the gorgeous blue house with a garden where Frida was born, died and lived with Diego Rivera.
It is the most beloved flea market in Mexico City. On Sundays stands of books, antiques and secondhand furniture get installed.
From La Ópera, the most elegant canteen, to the Salón Tenampa, a classic marchiachi place, the canteens have been for the last 150 years, a very Mexican gathering place, to celebrate, eat and drink, ad infinitum!
Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, one of the biggest in the world. The Biblioteca Central (its central library) is shrouded by a mural of Juan O´Gorman, and the Torre de Rectoría (its academic base) hosts one of the finest murals of David Alfaro Siqueiros y and the Estadio Olímpico (its olympic stadium), of Diego Rivera.
From the Museo de Antropología (Anthropology and History museum), to the MUNAL –mexican art in the XVL century-, the Tamayo Museum of Contemporary Art and the MUAC (university museum of contemporary art), this museums host the archeological legacy and some of the most important jewels of the city.
*Mexico City Travel Tips:
As most of the museums are closed on Mondays, we suggest you to take this day to visit the Aztec Ruins of Teotihuacan.
The Cool Kids on the Block
The neighborhoods Roma and Condesa are the most concurred ones nowadays because they offer plenty of coffee shops, bars, art galleries, restaurants, taquerias, boutiques and parks. Both neighborhoods must be walked and explored intimately; it is worth it to get lost in their French style mansions of the XIX century and to stroll around the Parque México in La Condesa.
The most exclusive
Polanco restaurants are the most select ones in Mexico City. Polanco is an exclusive area with luxury brand stores and trendy designers and five stars hotels. There you can find Pujol, considered as one of the finest restaurants in the world, created by the Mexican chef Enrique Olvera. To go in, keep in mind you must make a reservation several months in advance.
The most delicious
This is a very difficult one. Our gastronomic identity is based on corn, but it has been spiced with other products and techniques. As a result, it is one of the most influent and nurtured gastronomic destiny nowadays, so much, that the Mexican cuisine is recognized by the UNESCO as Heritage of Humanity.
If we MUST make a choice, we ask you not to leave until you have visited a regular taco stand or a market; without trying mezcal, Mexican beer and it you are brave enough, a pulque sip.
Mexico City has cuisines and restaurants for all tastes and budgets, but here’s a selection of the dishes that we as locals love:
Chilaquiles – Usually for breakfast, they are made with fried tortillas cut in squares, with green or red sauce poured on them. They are combined with eggs or shredded chicken, cheese and cream.
Pozole – According to anthropologists, this Prehispanic soup prepared with corn, herbs and spices, was used as part of sacrifice rituals. Today you can ask for it prepared with chicken, pork or its vegetarian version.
Mole – A sauce that contains more than 20 ingredients. Three states struggle about its creation. It is usually served over chicken or with the traditional enchiladas.
Zocalo y Centro Historico (Downtown Historic Center)
Declared as Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO, Zocalo is the heart of the city. Here you can find Templo Mayor Archeological Site, five murals of Diego Rivera and the biggest and oldest Cathedral in Mexico, in addition to the Palacio of Bellas Artes and the Postal Palace.
*Mexico City Travel Tips:
In the Historic Center you will find many terraces and restaurants from where you can have an astonishing view of the principal plaza: Zocalo.
Interactive Center where it is displayed the urban transformation of this great city. Located in the capital’s heart, it has 2 thousand squared meters equipped with the most advanced technology.
A tour by public transportation
At least once during your visit, you have to learn the sensation of boarding the subway in one of the biggest cities in the world. For sure you’ll get home with a great anecdote. (As in any other place, keep an eye on your belongings. We don’t recommend peak hours for amateurs).
FUN THINGS TO DO IN MEXICO CITY (AND OTHER CURIOSITIES)
There is a popular legend that says that in 1938, André Bretón, one of the most important personalities of surrealism, visited the City and left with the opinion that Mexico was really “a surrealist country”.
As a matter of fact, Mexico City offers extraordinary situations everywhere; the city itself is a carnival and in many occasions it provokes involuntary laughter. However, if the aim is amusement, and you have got a little more time to visit, we share some Mexico City Travel Tips: guarantee to spend a great time, night and day.
Ride a trajinera at Xochimilco
From the classic trajineras, full of folklore, music and food, to the chinampas dated over a 1000 years and the plants nurseries, it is worth a visit to the south, to know this area that used to provide food to the city in the age of the Colony.
Take a bike ride on Reforma
If you are a sportsperson, on Sundays from 8 to 14 hrs the middle lanes of Paseo de la Reforma are closed, as well as some streets in the Historic Center to be used only by pedestrias, skaters and bikers. If you are visiting, you can do this ramble on Ecobici.
Learning about architecture from Luis Barragan
Luis Barragan was the most important Mexican modern architect. He is our Frank Lloyd Wright and has a great number of constructions in Mexico City. The Luis Barragan House is in Tacubaya and it is a gorgeous museum, are also part of the international cultural heritage of humanity.
Take a walk on Coyoacan and San Angel
If you prefer the boho environment and you believe you only get to know a city when you walk around it, Coyoacan and San Angel are right up your alley. Day or night, in this neighborhoods you can find colorful houses, art museums and music on the streets. Furthermore, you can enjoy a variety of restaurants for all tastes and budgets, eat an ice cream, try a roast corn, eat a stuffed sweet churro and tast our quesadillas, tacos, flautas, sopes (and other gastronomic possibilities of tortilla) in one of the most emblematic food markets of the City.
At Plaza San Jacinto in San Angel there’s a handcrafts market that you can’t miss if you are on a Saturday in town.
With impressive artworks from some of the most important muralists in the XX century, (Orozco, O’Gorman and Siqueiros), botanical gardens, amazing views from the highest spot in the castle and a huge lake, this place is perfect to get some fresh air in the heart of Mexico City.
Attend a wrestling spectacle
Being in Mexico City and not attending to “Las Luchas” is almost a sin (and, keep in mind you are visiting a very catholic country!). It is a popular spectacle guaranteed to get you tons of fun and a catharsis that will let all your stress dissolve. There is nothing like going to Arena Mexico, take a beer in a paperboard cup and ignite the wrestlers by yelling from outside the ring.
Dancing in Patrick Miller
In a huge cellar with lasers, disco balls and screens, there’s this bar for open minded people eager to dance. The music theme is different, but the high energy nights are the best.
Sing with the mariachi at Plaza Garibaldi
In the late 2009 a proyect for recovering this emblematic gathering spot began and now, in addition of being the Mariachi House model, there`s also a Tequila and Mezcal Museum.
*Mexico City Travel Tips: Contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested to know more about one of these places, or if you desire to attend any of this fun places with one of our Welcomers.
MEXICO CITY SAFETY
We are aware this is THE question for many people that come for the first time to Mexico City. The reality is very simple: if you visit the tourist areas in México, you are out of trouble. ¿Is it safe to travel to Mexico City? Yes. In fact, there is no security alert in the US to travel here anymore. It is true that in our country there are violence and crime areas, but that is not the case of Mexico City, you will be safe if you follow our safety warnings:
- If most of the time you will travel in public transportation, keep an eye on your purse or wallet, and try not to use it in peak hours (from 6 to 9 am and 6 to 9 pm).
- Don’t walk alone after 10 pm by your own in dark places or not crowded spots.
- Take SITIO Taxis or private ones.
- Credit cards are recognized in almost all the hotels and restaurants.
- If you are planning to use a cell phone during your journey, seek for an adequate plan with your phone company before coming.
- Outside the tourist areas, not everyone speak English. Learn the basic phrases and Mexicans will be glad to hear you speak Spanish.
- It is not necessary to be frightened all the time, but don’t embrace the opposite standing: take precautions, as in any other place and everything will be fine ☺
Because the true places are not found in any map…
Travel with us.