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A Travel Guide for Mexico City: Things to Do + Where to Stay

In this travel guide for Mexico City, we will go over everything you need to know to plan your trip to the city that kept surprising me. I always thought Mexico City (or CDMX as it's known), was a scary and hectic place... but I was very wrong. Read on for all the reasons why CDMX is one of the best cities in the world, as well as things to do, where to stay, and how to get around!



CONTENTS




 


Why did we go to Mexico City?


A few years back I enjoyed a 3-day stint in Rosarito, a Mexican party town only a few miles over the border from San Diego in the USA. Even though tequila shots and spring breakers are not my vibe at all, the Mexican sunsets and bountiful ceviche won me over, and I couldn't wait to go back and explore deeper into Mexico.


As those who know us will be aware, food plays a central part in almost everything Joe and I do, and street food in Mexico is something we simply had to experience together.



 


How to Get to Mexico City


Most people would fly into Benito Juarez International Airport, which connects 50 domestic and 64 international destinations.


However as we were coming from California, Joe and I walked over the border from San Diego directly into Tijuana airport. To arrange this we used a company called CBX and the service was great value for money and super efficient.


British Nationals do not need a visa to enter Mexico - however, if you enter by land you will need to fill out an immigration form online (this can be done at CBX). MAKE SURE YOU GET STAMPED IN. If a lazy border official does not bother with the stamp, you may have some issues when leaving Mexico.


From Tijuana we chose to fly directly to Mexico City, basically skipping the whole eastern half of Mexico. We decided to stay a few days in Mexico City just to see what it was like, and we are so glad we did.



Mexico city Centro Historico
Zocalo Plaza in the Centro Historico

 

FOR TRAVEL INSURANCE for Mexico, do what I do and have a browse on Travel Supermarket - where you can choose an affordable policy with a high Defaqto rating.


 


My First Impressions of Mexico City


This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may get a commission if you make a purchase through this website, at no cost to you. I only link to products I use and love.

Mexico City is immaculate! There is an army of gardeners and street cleaners that storm the city at the crack of dawn, so by the time you have your morning coffee, the plants have been pruned and the dust swept away so that CDMX (Ciudad de México) rivals any Japanese city in cleanliness.


Mexico City is so pretty! It is the prettiest city I have ever seen in fact. The streets are lined with leafy trees, tropical flowers and colourful buildings, most of which are plastered with amazing artwork.


The food and drink scene in Mexico City is world-class - from old-school cantinas to the 'World's 50 Best' and Michelin stars, there's something for every occasion and budget.


Public transport is cheap, efficient, and safe. Mexico City is served by the Sistema de Transporte Colectivo, a 225.9 km (140 mi) metro system, which is the largest in Latin America, and it's only 5 pesos a ride (20p).


The police presence in Mexico City is huge. So if you're wondering if Mexico City is safe for tourists? The answer is Yes - if you take the usual big-city precautions.


The job is shared between federal, border, traffic, state and municipal police, not to mention private security. You will find them on every street corner, every train platform, and outside every building of significance, they will have big guns and sometimes armoured cars.



A pretty engraved church catching the sunset in Mexico City
There is something interesting around every corner in Mexico City


 


Where to Stay in Mexico City


Mexico City is huge! With a population of 22 million people and a myriad of different neighbourhoods to choose from, most first-timers to CDMX often struggle with choosing where to stay.


Selecting where to stay in Mexico City is key, as some neighbourhoods are very safe and walkable, and others are known for being a little dodgier.


We stayed in Centro Histórico, which was close to all of the action, but after spending time in Mexico City we would have preferred to stay in Roma Norte or La Condesa, which are both bohemian and trendy, and all of the well-known eateries are clustered around these areas. If you're feeling fancy, you could opt to stay in the millionaires neighbourhood of Polanco, where you have a selection of fancy cocktail bars and fine dining options.


We also heard good things about Coyoacán - which is one of the oldest neighbourhoods and a great choice when choosing where to stay in Mexico City.


I used booking.com to find almost all of my accommodation in Mexico.



 

Not sure what to pack for your trip to Mexico? Check out the I Dream of Mangoes article:



 


Top Things to Do in Mexico City


There are so many things to do in Mexico City! Here are some of the things Joe and I did that I would recommend...


  • Take a Yoga Class - at SHALA MX ASHTANGA YOGA. Home to SYC-authorised teachers in a super nice studio in La Condesa. If you are a travelling Ashtangi like me, this place is definitely worth checking out. I ALWAYS travel with my Jade Yoga Travel Mat - which can roll up small enough to fit in hand luggage.


  • Eat Tacos - because tacos are life. Eating tacos is in my opinion, the best thing to do in Mexico City! Our favourite taco joints were Don Juan and Tacos Hola El Güero, both in Roma-Condesa. It is worth mentioning Los Especiales in Centro Historíco - who offer 'basket tacos', 5 tacos and a drink for 55 pesos (£2.50). It isn't fancy but it does the job!


Basket Tacos from Los Especiales
Basket Tacos from Los Especiales

  • Go to a Cocktail Bar - Mexico City has so many amazing bars, and stopping in to see any of these guys who all made it onto the World's 50 Best Bars 2022 List is one of the top things to do in Mexico City!



  • Frida Kahlo's House - This is one of the most popular things to do in Mexico City. Open 10am - 6pm every day except Monday, located on the corner of Londres and Allende Streets. Check their website for tours and exhibitions here.


  • See a Lucha Libre Match - This is mad! Think corny WWF with lots of audience participation, loved by locals, and one of the most unique things to do in Mexico City! You'll see flyers advertising Lucha Libre all over the city, or you can check for scheduled performances on Ticketmaster.


  • Museum of Modern Art - It's worth a trip to the Museum of Modern Art only to see a few special pieces, and I liked the large collection of contemporary sculptures in the garden, but the museum as a whole does not compete with equivalent galleries in other cities.


  • Museum of Anthropology - An enormous amount of information is on display in a very confusingly laid out museum, containing the world's largest collection of Mexican art. Be aware that a lot of the descriptions are in Spanish only. The museum is open every day from 9am - 7pm, except Mondays.


A sculpture of Aztec history in the museum of anthropology in Mexico City
A sculpture of Aztec history in the museum of anthropology in Mexico City


  • Self-guided street art tour in Roma Norte - This was one of my favourite things to do in Mexico City; wandering around admiring graffiti and other amazing murals. Roma Norte is a lovely neighbourhood anyway, where you can stroll, grab a superbly crafted coffee or a cold bev, and wander some more.


  • Try Pulque at Pulquería Las Duelistas - Pulque is a milky, alcoholic beverage made from the fermented sap of the Maguey plant. It's sour and creamy, and very unique, and normally has an abv. of around 6%. Pulque Las Duelistas is open every day from 10am - 9pm, excluding Sundays, and sampling this local brew is another fun thing to do in Mexico City!



 



Other Reasons Why Mexico City is Awesome


If you're still not sure if it's worth stopping in Mexico City, then here are more reasons why you should definitely spend at least a few days here!


  • The historic centre of Mexico City and Xochimilco has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Spanish built Mexico City on the ruins of Tenochtitlan - the old Aztec capital, in the 16th century, and it's very easy on the eye.


  • Sitting high in the sky at 2240m, the altitude of Mexico City means that it doesn't get as stiflingly humid as other parts of the country (I am looking at you, Tulum!)


  • If I haven't sent the message home already, THE FOOD IS GREAT. The culinary scene in Mexico City could rival London, with many fine dining establishments fit for any wealthy tourist or Chilango. That being said, much of the best food in Mexico City is found on the street in an array of simple pushcarts that crowd the pavements.


  • Art is all around you! More and more these days city residents see legal street art as a way to beautify their previously gritty neighbourhoods and foster a sense of community. To see the best of this; the street art tour from street art Chilango comes highly recommended.


  • There is something to do for any interest, including a whopping 150 museums, and many local excursions within a day's reach, including the very well-known Templo Mayor de México-Tenochtitlan.


Colourful clay bowls in Mexico City
Colourful clay bowls in Mexico City

 


Make Mexico City Part of Your Wider Mexico itinerary


From Mexico City you can easily take the bus to Puebla - one of Mexico's Pueblo Mágicos, and then on to the food capital: Oaxaca de Juarez.


Beach bums can choose to head from the capital of Oaxaca state down to the Pacific coast, to Mazunte or Puerto Escondido.


For those looking for more culture and Mayan ruins, instead, head to Chiapas - Mexico's best-kept secret, to the towns of San Cristóbal de las Casas and Palenque.


Why stop there? From Palenque, you can head up into Yucatan, which is a state of astounding natural beauty if you can plan carefully to avoid the crowds.



Street art in Mexico City
Street art in Mexico City

 


Thank you for reading my travel guide which hopefully helps you decide where to stay and all the things you want to do in Mexico City!


If you're combining this with a trip to California like we did, check out my article - San Francisco to San Diego on a Shoestring for more great travel advice!


If you enjoyed reading please consider subscribing to my blog, where I release an article every 1/2 weeks about my current one-year backpacking trip around the world.



Happy Travels

xx



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Disclosure:
I Dream of Mangoes is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. That being said, I only link to products I use and love.

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