Mexico City City Guide
Mexico City, or Distrito Federal, is one of the most largest and densely populated cities in the world. Situated 2400m above sea level, Mexico City is a vibrant and colourful metropolis in Latin America. Although intimidating in size, Mexico City is an urban wonderland with cultural attractions, gastronomical delights, and a cafe and nightlife culture that’s perched above ancient history.
The city, formerly known as Tenochtitlan, was established in 1325 by the Aztecs. Its ancient beginnings were destroyed in the 16th century when the Spanish arrived and swiftly conquered the land. Temples were knocked down and replaced with cathedrals and soon little of its Aztec origins remained. But as time passes and the city undergoes development, much of the old city is slowly resurfacing.
Things to Do
Historic Center & Zocalo
One of the largest squares in the world can only be found in a city that has Mexico City's sheer size. The Zocalo (Plaza de la Constitucion) is a colossal introduction to the city as the square not only houses the Cathedral of Mexico City but the National Palace and some other iconic buildings. You'll find the Zocalo bustling with local vendors pawning everything from shawls, Toltec masks to beaded jewellery. The historic centre is the place to see temple ruins that were unearthed in the 1970s when the city’s metro construction began.
Bosque de Chapultepec
Amidst its ancient ruins, the 20-plus million Mexicans and colonial architecture is an oasis of green perched on a hilltop. Mexico City's Central Park, the Bosque de Chapultepec offers a sometimes much-needed break from the metropolis. Here you can stroll through the park, meander past monuments and lakes at your leisure, and even visit a zoo! The piece de resistance is the Castillo de Chapultepec, a sacred Aztec ground and former presidential home that when reached offers stunning panoramic views of the city below. Getting to this green haven is no trouble at all as the metro stops in the park itself.
Museums & Pyramids
Mexico City is a dream come true for every history buff with its many archaeological sites and museums to tickle their fancy. Art enthusiasts may stop by the Frida Kahlo Museum (aka the Blue House) to unravel the life and work of the Mexican artist while culture vultures will have a field day at the National Museum of Anthropology. This is the spot to peruse pre-Hispanic artefacts including Aztec, Mayan and Toltec sculptures.
If you like to travel back in time, then a visit to the Teotihuacan Pyramids is an absolute must. Located on the outskirts of the city, the "Ancient City of the Gods" dates back to 300BC and is a place of pure mystery. Join one of many tours that will allow you to explore the statues and stone expanse in this open-air museum. More adventurous travellers can hike up to the temple summit or opt for a hot-air balloon ride for incomparable vistas.
Food & Nightlife
In Mexico City, it will be hard to avoid or resist the very tempting smells of toasting tortillas. Lunch (Comida) is the largest meal of the day while dinner is eaten quite late at night. Whether you grab yourself a Taco or a Cemita (Mexican sandwich) from a stand, you might want to make sure there aren't any insects in your meal. Although they may not be everyone’s taste, they’re considered quite a local delicacy.
When it’s time to get your drink and dance on, La Zona Rosa is the popular nightlife spot. Polanco and Condesa are however quickly becoming the go-to neighbourhoods for a good night out. Whether you go out to a bar (cantina), club, or to enjoy some live music, take it easy with the drinks as they’ll put more than a few hairs on your chest.
When to Go
The best time to grace Mexico City with your presence is generally between March and May when the weather is at its best. The payoff for great weather is that the city can be overcrowded. Avoid visiting during summer months unless you like a good downpour.
Pedestrian friendly and a bike share programme in place, Mexico City is perfect for those who like to travel green. Its transportation system is well developed and an inexpensive means of getting around. Whether you hop on the metro or 1st and 2nd class buses, beware of pickpockets, especially on crowded trains. For ultimate comfort and safety, jump in a 'Turismo' or 'Sitio' taxi.
In the land where siestas are the norm, you’ll soon find yourself taking daytime naps to recharge from a day of exploration and to rest up for a night of fun. Browse through our listing of available accommodation in Mexico City and snap up the spot you’ll put your feet up each night.