A stone cathedral in Mexico City with the Mexican flag to the right
Destinos

A Local's Guide to Mexico City

Beth Watson


Once ignored for the country’s beach resorts, Mexico City is finally getting the recognition it deserves as one of the cultural capitals of the Americas. With museums galore and a foodie scene to rival Paris and New York, it’s no surprise that travellers are starting to flock to the capital.

But, with an urban population of around eight million and with an area larger than New York City, this incredible metropolis can be a bit difficult to navigate. So make sure you read our Mexico City travel guide to make sure you know how to spend your time in this fascinating mega-city.

Mexico City Travel Guide

Things to do in Mexico City

Mexico City Day of the Dead Parade

El Dia de los Muertos festivities in Mexico cities with skeleton puppets and crowds

 Photo Credit: Marco Antonio Ibarra Neri

Although Day of the Dead has been part of Mexican culture for centuries, the October parade was born only three years ago. After being imagined for the James Bond film Spectre, the city’s organisers decided to hold the event every year to encourage tourism to the city centre. Now with thousands of participants, the parade makes a breathtaking site for anyone visiting Mexico city.

Mexico City Anthropology Museum

Old Mayan stone figures at the National Anthroplogy Museum of Mexico

 Photo Credit: Deror Avi

Mexico was the birthplace of two of the world’s oldest civilizations (the Aztecs and the Mayas), so it’s no surprise that the anthropology museum in Mexico City is filled to the brim with interesting artefacts. You could spend hours discovering the secrets of this world-class museum and still feel like you haven’t seen it all.

The Zócalo

An ancient stone cathedral with towers and central clock in Mexico City

 Photo Credit: Adrian Sampson

If you’ve done any online research about Mexico City, you’ll have probably seen some of the buildings in the Zócolo. This enormous square has held an important place in the region ever since Aztec times, and is still used for parades and city-wide celebrations. It's also home to two of the city’s most iconic buildings: the main cathedral and the National Palace.

The Frida Kahlo museum

The blue house with green doors and windows of Frida Kahlo

 Photo Credit: Rod Waddington

A popular stop off in historic Coyoacán, Frida Kahlo’s iconic blue house is a must visit for any fan of the revolutionary artist. Be aware that the lines can be very long, so it’s best to get there with plenty of time.

Mercado Jamaica

Red Hibiscus flowers

 Photo Credit: Adam Jones

No, this isn’t a market selling all the best Jamaican imports! El Mercado Jamaica actually translates as hibiscus market in Spanish, and is the best place to get your hands on colourful flowers. Head here for a lazy wander around the stalls and to take colourful snaps for your Instagram.

Where to stay in Mexico City

When travelling to somewhere as colossal as Mexico City, make sure you pick where you stay carefully, or you might spend hours stuck on a bus at rush hour trying to get to where you want to go

Coyoacán

An ancient stone building in Mexico City

 Photo Credit: Camilo01

If you haven’t got much time and you’re desperate to explore the history of Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo, consider staying in vibrant Coyoacán (or you could waste time toing and froing from the historic centre).

La Condesa and Roma

Green buildings in a Mexico City suburb

 Photo Credit: Keizers

If it’s the food you’re after, then areas such as La Condesa, the uber-cool Roma Norte or Roma Sur (the inspiration for Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma) are the place to be. Wander around some of the coolest parts of the city and sample some of the highlights from the city’s burgeoning culinary scene.

The Historic Centre

The culturally significant Teatro Bellas in Mexico City with an orange domed roof and white fascade

Alternatively, if you’ve not got much time on your hands, or you’re visiting the city during a layover, you might want to stay in the city’s historic centre, as many of the main tourist attractions are in walking distance.

Mexico City Best Restaurants

For traditional Mexican- Fonda Fina

A Mexican fish dish

 Photo Credit: Fonda Fina

As we’ve mentioned, when it comes to culinary tourism, the neighbourhoods of Roma and La Condesa can’t be beaten. And, Fonda Fina in Roma Norte is the perfect example of young chefs putting their own twist on traditional Mexican cuisine. Expect understated interiors, delicious cocktails and plenty of vegan and vegetarian options.

For a special occasion- Casa Virgina

Traditional Mexican food from Casa Virginia

 Photo Credit: Casa Virginia

Monica Patiño’s Casa Virginia offers fine dining made with the freshest local ingredients. Set in a beautiful colonial house dating back to the early twentieth century, you won’t mind forking out for some of the best seasonal food in Mexico City.

For brunch- Delirio

Traditional Mexican Delirio

 Photo Credit: Delirio

If you’ve had a big night on the Mezcal, there’s nowhere trendier to soak up your hangover than Delirio. Just make sure to head there early as they can fill up pretty quickly on the weekends.

Mexico City Street Food

Remember, some of the best food you’ll find in Mexico City won’t be in a restaurant at all. Don’t be afraid to explore everything the city’s incredible street food stands have to offer. Spend time sampling chilaquiles, gorditas, quesadillas and tacos and you’ll soon find your favourite street food stop. Or, head straight to Taqueria el Abanico near Mercado Jamaica for some of the best carnitas in town.

Mexico City Travel FAQs

Is Mexico City dangerous?

Mexico City once used to have a reputation for drug crime, but in the past few years violence has largely left the city. Although you might come across pickpocketing or other petty crimes, as long as you keep your wits about you, there’s no reason to feel unsafe in Mexico City.

Are there beaches in Mexico City?

Mexico City is located right in the centre of Mexico so, sadly, does not have a beach! But, if you’re desperate to top up your tan, the beaches around Acapulco are just a five-hour drive away. Or, if you’ve got plenty of time to kill, the sleepy beach town of Yelapa on Mexico’s west coast offers total tranquillity and also featured as one of our most affordable romantic getaways for Valentine’s Day.

How to get to Mexico City

The nearest airport to Mexico City is Mexico City International Airport (MEX) (officially Aeropuerto Internacional Benito Juárez). Find flights there with AeromarAeromexicoAir CanadaDeltaAviancaInterjet (one of the cheapest airlines in the world), LATAM AirlinesViva AerobusVolaris and many more!

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