Mexico City, which is sited at an altitude of 2,300 meters above sea level, is North America’s highest city. This big, bustling metropolis is situated in a valley surrounded by snow capped volcanoes and mountains and also happens to be one of the largest and most densely populated cities in the world.
Mexico City has a rich, cultural past, which dates back to the times of the ancient Aztec civilization; though the city’s history also includes the invasion of the Conquistadors and the subsequent period of colonial rule. As a result, Mexico City offers a whole host of fascinating sites and attractions that include world class museums and galleries, stunning architecture, ancient ruins, verdant parks and colonial buildings that seem to coexist in relative harmony with towering skyscrapers and other symbols of modern day commerce, business and enterprise.
A visit to Mexico City can evoke a cacophony of sights and sounds for like any modern megalopolis Mexico City has its fair share of ills in the form of poverty, overcrowding and slums, incredible pollution, traffic congestion, crime and unemployment.
Such is the assault on one’s senses in Mexico City by the constant urban churn that frequent visitors are known to remark that a vacation to Mexico City can both fascinate and repel a first time visitor at the same time.
Mexico City is divided into 16 districts, which are further sub-divided into 350 colonias or neighborhoods. The city offers a wide array of diverse hotels and other accommodation options in many of its neighborhoods. However, visitors to the city tend to favor a few choice areas which are listed below:-
Colonia Centro is the veritable heart of the city, which hosts its business, banking as well as historic areas in around La Alameda and the zócalo ( the city’s main square) areas. This epicenter of Mexico City is home to several important historic landmarks that date back to the Aztec and the Spanish eras as well as numerous museums. Aside from these monuments, Colonia Centro also hosts restaurants, shops and many new hotels.
This neighborhood hosts Chapultepec Park is the largest patch of green in Mexico City. Chapultepec Park was dedicated as a park in the 15th century by the Aztec ruler, Nezahualcóyotl. The area of Chapultepec Park and its neighboring area of Polanco, which lies north of the park, constitute the most exclusive addresses in Mexico City. Both these neighborhoods host many museums, antique stores, upscale stores as well as fine dining and nightlife options.
These two neighborhoods also host most of the Mexico City luxury hotels and if you have a passion for luxury hotels, then the twin neighborhoods of Chapultepec Park and Polanco should get your vote for accommodations in Mexico City. Moreover, if you are making your hotel reservations through Fare Buzz, you can be sure of securing the best hotel rates no matter what type and grade of hotel you choose to stay at in Mexico City.
Santa Fe, which is located five miles west of the town center, is one of Mexico City’s newest neighborhoods and home to several high tech and multinational companies as well as the Iberro Americana University and a large shopping complex. This neighborhood also offers numerous nightlife and dining options along with new hotel properties.
Zona Rosa or the Pink Zone was once a very desirable, exclusive neighborhood in Mexico City, which now has been overtaken by various grades of bohemia. Today, Zona Roso offers hip clothing stores, antique and silver shops, mid-range hotels and other budget accommodation along with cafes, casual restaurants and off beat nightlife venues. Condesa and Roma, which are located south of the Zona Rosa, offer a similar type of ambiance as they are home to some of the city’s hippest bars, cafes, stores, night clubs and art galleries.
The paved Plaza de la Constitucion or El Zocalo is the second largest square in the world. This square is Mexico City’s center of government and religion and hosts several important landmarks. Located here are buildings like the Presidential Palace and the Metropolitan Cathedral; both of which have much historical importance and should be considered as must-visit sights on any visit to Mexico City. The square itself is a hub of activity, which features many vendors and buskers, who routinely perform for the tourists and locals.
The Templo Mayor was the main temple of the Aztecs, which was believed to represent the center of the universe. This temple formed a part of the sacred complex of the ancient city of Tenochtitlan and has been recently excavated and is today an important sight in Mexico. This temple was believed to have been built in 1375 and it encompasses a platform on which stands a sacrificial stone. The Aztecs often made human sacrifices at this stone in honor of their tribal god, Huizilopochtli. The Temple Mayor also encompasses a museum that has many Aztec artifacts that offer a valuable insight into the Aztec civilization.
The white marble structure of the Palacio de Belle Artes offers two museums namely the Museo del Palacio de Bellas Artes and the Museo de la Arquitectura. The Museo del Palacio de Bellas Artes has a permanent collection that includes over 6,000 paintings, sculptures and engravings that feature the artworks of prominent Mexican artists such as Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siqueiros and Rufino Tamayo. This museum should not be missed by any art enthusiast on a visit to Mexico City.
Bosque de Chapultepec is Mexico City’s main green lung and its largest park that contains lakes, a zoo and many museums including the Museo Nacional de Antropología. This huge museum is one of the finest Anthropology museums in the world that offers displays of numerous artifacts, which chronicle the ancient historical past of Mexico City. The museum’s permanent collection features displays of artifacts that hail from the Teotihuacana Empire, the Aztecs, and the Mayans and include gems like famous Aztec Sun Stone, which was discovered beneath El Zocalo in 1790.
San Angel is a suburb of Mexico City, which is known for its magnificent architecture that consists of ancient mansions and colonial houses and cobbled stone streets. The suburb is also known for its Saturday craft market that is held at Plaza San Jacinto and provides numerous shopping opportunities for souvenir-seeking visitors on a vacation to Mexico City.
The climate of Mexico City is affected by its altitude and the city generally experiences warm summers and cold winters. May is usually the warmest month in Mexico during which day time temperatures often touch 32°C (90°F) while January is the coldest month.
The city also receives much rainfall throughout the year, though July is generally the wettest month in Mexico City while February is the driest month. The best time to plan a trip to Mexico City is usually during spring (April and May) for the winter months from November to January can be quite cold. Moreover the city’s renowned smog is often at its worst during these winter months.
Mexico City is easily accessed via its Mexico City International Airport, which is located six miles to the east of Mexico City. This airport is served by a wide array of international and domestic carriers. We at GoPit routinely offer a good number of flight deals for Mexico City, which typically feature cheap air tickets.
Mexico City’s airport is linked to the city center by a various modes of public transport like the city’s subway system, public bus services and taxis. Further the outlets of major car rental companies are also located outside the airport.
If you feel the need to rent a car for the duration of your stay in Mexico City, you should explore the many affordable car rental options that GoPit has for Mexico City. Your Mexico City car rental bookings can be made along with your other travel bookings on the very same booking platforms and you can pick up your vehicle at one of the outlets located outside the airport in Mexico City.
Mexico City offers an efficient and cheap public transport system that makes getting around quite easy. This public transport system consists of the metro, trolley buses and minibuses. However, the Mexico City metro that runs from 6am to midnight is generally the favored public transport for most visitors to the Mexican capital city.
Mexico City is also well served by various kinds of taxis including cheap, metered VW Beetle taxis. However, tourists are advised not to hail taxis in the street as the city also has a substantial number of rogue or gypsy cabs. If it all you need a taxi, it is advisable to ask your hotel or restaurant to call for one. This often incurs an additional charge but it is considered to be worthwhile in a city where crime rates unfortunately are quite high.
If you enjoy shopping on overseas trips, then you will be in heaven in Mexico City, for the Mexican capital offers a wide array of shopping destinations ranging from modern malls and shopping centers to specialty stores and bustling locale markets. Almost every neighborhood of Mexico City encompasses prominent shopping destinations, so no matter where you are based in Mexico City, you are bound to have shopping opportunities located close by.
If it’s the mall experience you are after, you could concentrate your shopping expeditions on Mexico City’s various malls and shopping centers like Centro Comercial Santa Fe, one of the largest and most integrated malls in Latin America, which provides a comprehensive shopping mall experience by way of its many shopping (285 upmarket stores), dining and entertainment options. Similar experiences can be had at retail havens like Perisur located in the southwest corner of the city and Plaza La Rosa, located within the city’s Zona Rosa area.
For souvenir items and novelty gifts, like Mexican colonial art, prints, jewelry, pottery, woodwork, textiles, glassware and more, you could try one of the many specialty stores like Algeria Windsor and Fiona scattered around the city or then one of the city’s lively local markets like Merced de la Cuddle, Bazaar del Abandon (a Sunday marketplace in the San Angel area), Bazaar del Centro and La Merced Market (one of the best places to shop for authentic Oaxaca cheese).
Sprawling Mexico City, home to more than 19 million people, is a well-known gastronomic capital of Latin America. The city abounds with a wide assortment of restaurants and casual eateries, though Mexico City, like Bangkok also hosts a vibrant street food culture.
High-end, low-end, traditional and innovative, Mexico City’s dining repertoire features almost every kind of restaurant. Recommended eateries in Mexico City currently include hotspots like Restaurante Pujol, Quintonil, Turtux, Mora Blanca and Limosneros. All these restaurants offer modern Mexican cuisine in a fine-dining setting. For more affordable and traditional family-style meals try eateries like Romulo’s (fresh seafood) and El Hidalguense, famed for barbacoa (slow-cooked meat).
Whilst in Mexico City, you must make it a point to try the some of the city’s famed street foods like Tacos, Huaraches (fried masa dough topped with meat and fillings), Gorditas (cornmeal patties with varied fillings), Sopes (thick fried dough with pinched edges to hold fillings), Flautas (elongated rolled corn tortillas) and Torta (the Mexican version of a sandwich).
Concerns about safety in recent times have not hampered the nightlife scene in Mexico City and this busy megalopolis offers a wide range of bars, lounges, late-night restaurants and thumping nightclubs, which offer ample opportunity for nocturnal entertainment. Buzzing nightlife haunts in Mexico City currently include establishments like Bar Brick, Rioma, Area Bar, Pasaje America (dance club), King’s British Pub, Bulldog Café and Asha (an after-hours dance spot).