Our visit to Mexico City was not at all what we expected. We thought it would be a bit grim around the edges, full of traffic typical of a big scary capital city. While it does have those elements, what we found and loved was incredible history, amazing colonial architecture, Belle Epoch era beauty and hippy tree lined suburbs. Not to mention the amazing array of fantastic museums and green park spaces. Here’s a taste of our favourite things to do in splendid Cuidad de Mexico, get your trainers on and let me take you on a trip…
Day 1 – Tourist Bus
Spend the day on the Turibus and get a feel for the layout of the city, this will give you an idea of distances for when you go off exploring on foot.This ‘Hop on Hop off’ double decker bus is great value at $140 per person. There are 4 routes which will take you past all the major tourist sites, miss out the traffic clogged green southern route though and stick to the red and orange central circuits.
At Plaza Madrid there are some great options for a leisurely lunch at one of the nearby shady terrace restaurants. If you’re not all bussed out, jump back on the red route at sunset to view Paseo Reforma where the Angel of the Monumento a la Independencia is really pretty all lit up.
Day 2 – Explore the Centro Historico.
Start at the Zocalo – Plaza de la Constitucion, the heart of the city and original centre of the Aztec Tenochtitlan founding city, try to imagine the city was once an island surrounded by lakes. Find out more about the history by visiting the museum and only remaining Aztec pyramid at the nearby Templo Mayor.
Read my post about the history of Tenochtitlan.
Cross over to visit the chapels and altars of the Catedral Metropolitana. Catholic worshippers bring tiny medallions representing body parts like a disembodied leg, arm or hand, prayers are said for cures in this largest Cathedral in the Americas.
Get your ID ready to pass the heavily guarded Palacio Nacional, entry is free to view the inner courtyards housing impressive Diego Rivera murals depicting a timeline from Aztecs to the Mexican Revolution. Look out for the beautiful Aztec lady who couldn’t be less than impressed when presented with a fine token of a human leg!
Walk down Tacuba to the National Art Museum view to your hearts content, after buying postcards pop into the gargoyled covered beautiful art deco Post Office where you can query the low cost to send the cards to the UK ¿Seguro que conseguirá allí? I’m ‘m sure they’ll arrive in a few weeks…
Next stop, head over to the Sears department store for a cooling drink on the terrace cafe with spectacular views onto the gorgeous Palacio De Bella Artes and Alameda Central park. Alternatively pay to go up the skyhigh Torre Latinoamerica with 360 views where on a clear day you can see as far as the smoking volcano of Popocatepetl. Return at sunset where the cost of cocktails will get you free entry to the sky bar and golden views.
Day 3 – Saturday Markets of Coyoacan
On a Saturday take Metro Train line 3 south to Coyoacan. Walk for 10 minutes through the leafy avenues then browse in the parks and streets at local art, explore the artisan crafts in the Mercado. Sit in the main parks watching he world go by with an ice cream or a fresh taco or both! Read my Saturday Afternoon post.
Ready to visit the Casa Azul home of Mexico’s hot icon Frida Kahlo? The museum entry cost is $100 its an extra $20 at weekends and a bit busier, but there is plenty of space to find a sun kissed corner and reflect on Frida’s incredible life. My love for Frida is immense read an earlier post here.
Day 4 – Lazy Sunday in the Bosque Chapultepec
From the Metro pink line 1 disembark at Chapultapec and take a leisurely walk through the park. There’s a steep climb up to the colonial Chapultepec Castle for stunning views. On Sundays watch the Mexican families fill the park to visit the zoo, take out a pedalo boat and see the kids gettting their faces painted – mini Spiderman will be running everywhere! Enjoy the carnival atmosphere buying the odd gift and enjoy takeaway tortas from one of the many food stalls.
The Museo de Art is free on Sundays if you fancy a whizz through, but keep walking through the park to visit the Museo Nacional de Antropología. Entry to this vast Museum of Anthropology is $64, depending on your interest it might take anything from a couple of hours to a half day there. Exhibits on the ground floor cover pre-Columbian civilisations and upper floors show the culture of Mexico after the Spanish colonisation. We really enjoyed the Teotihuacan rooms which showed us depictions of what the Temple of the Plumed Serpent would have looked like.
Day 5 – Pyramids!
Book a tour to visit Teotihuacan to visit the enormous Pyramids of the Sun and Moon. We booked through Viator.com. It was an early pickup but it meant temprano entry to the site before the main tour coaches arrived. Our guide was excellent and we would definitely recommend the trip. Here is my view of the City of the Gods
For our trip we stayed in a great value AirBnB downtown apartment two blocks from the Zocalo for our first 5 days. Following our trips to Guanajuato and San Miguel de Allende, Mr E found us late deal at the very splendid Gran Hotel with its beautiful Tiffany ceiling.
From the hotel terrace we had great views of the monumental Mexican flag flying in the middle of the Zócalo where it is ceremonially lowered at 6pm every day by the soldiers of the Mexican army, then raised at 8am each morning. We witnessed the tremendous pride shown by Mexican nationals even with the soldiers battling with the wind whipping the flag so as to never let the Bandera touch the floor.
Hopefully on a next return trip to DF we will take a Sunday jaunt down to Xochomilco for an afternoon ride with micheladas in hand, take a train up to visit the Basilica de Guadalupe and further explore the trendy cafe culture of Condessa & Roma area’s.
If you are visiting we hope you Disfrute de esta maravillosa ciudad!!