Yay! Mexico City! As with most of my time in Mexico, I was pleasantly surprised by Mexico City. It was nothing like I had imagined – which was something slightly similar to that of the movie Man on Fire with Denzel Washington – and truth be told, I’m glad. I hate arriving in a new place already knowing what’s ahead of me. How boring is that?! I want challenges. I want to be awed.
I know, I am such a high maintenance traveller.
As with Bangkok, Mexico City is more than a transportation hub, and if you’ve only allotted a couple days for the city with the premis that it is not worth your time, then this is the post for you.
1. Take a TuriBus Tour
I know, open top tourist buses are the epitome of cheesy travel experiences, but before you roll your eyes, hear me out. Mexico City is one of the largest cities in the world, and taking a TuriBus tour is a great way to get an overview of the city and make a plan for where you want to go, and what you want to do. I recommend Circuito Centro, although there are three other tours. The cost for the tour is 140 pesos ($12) during the week, and 165 pesos ($14) on the weekend.
2. El Moro – Churreria
Canada has Tim Hortons coffee and donuts. Mexico City has El Moro. There is nothing more satisfying than ducking into El Moro on a hot day and ordering a cup of Mexican Hot Chocolate and Churros. The hot chocolate in Mexico is thick, rich, and absolutely delightful. MMmm… I’m hungry now. A cup of hot chocolate with four churros is about 30 to 60 pesos ( $2.50 to $5).
3. Lucha Libre
Lucha Libre is a national institution, and when visiting Mexico City it is absolutely imperative that you go. A mixture of wrestling, acrobatics, and pure entertainment. The best place to watch Lucha Libre is at Arena Mexico (the holy temple of the Luchadores), and although you can go on your own, joining a tour from one of the hostels in the city can heighten your experience. You can buy Lucha Libre masks outside the arena, or inside for around 80 pesos ($7). Fights happen on Wednesdays and Fridays. Tickets at the arena range in price from $6 USD to $30 USD. Most hostel tours will cost around $30 USD and include your transportation.
4. Diego Rivera Murals at the Palacio Nacional
Located across the street (well, kiddy corner) from Mexico City Metropolitan Cathedral is the National Palace, home to some stellar Diego Rivera murals. Admission to the palace is FREE, so really, why would you not go?! Oh, and the murals are fairly spectacular. Just saying.
5. Casa Azul – Frida Kahlo Museum
Frida Kahlo is a national icon in Mexico, and if you are unfamiliar with her and her art, watch the movie, Frida, before your visit. Casa Azul (Blue House) is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Mexico City, and well worth your time. Visit early in the morning (try to get there for the 10am opening) to have a less crowded experience. Admission is 80 pesos ($7). If you want to take photos you’ll need to pay an additional 40 pesos ($3.40).
6. Templo Mayor
About half a block from Mexico City Metropolitan Cathedral are the ancient Aztec ruins of Templo Mayor, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Although you can get a basic overview from the street, to truly explore the ruins you’ll need to pay 57 pesos ($4.75), which gives you access to the ruins, as well as the museum where many original artifacts are housed. Templo Mayor was the main temple of the Aztecs. When the Spaniards arrived in Mexico they destroyed many scared sites and built over top of them. This was the case with Templo Mayor.
7. Street Markets
Mexico’s street market culture dates back to its early history, and while you may prefer shopping malls at home, in Mexico you really need to experience the street market culture in each and every city. And especially in Mexico City. Every Sunday the zocolo (main plaza) is filled with vendors selling clothing, souvenirs, and shaman services. El mercado de Sonora (Av Fray Servando Teresa de Mier #419, Col Merced Balbuena) and El mercado de Jamaica (Calzada de la Viga y Eje 3 norte) are the biggest and busiest markets, but totally worth a visit. This is where you’ll find live animals, black magic, food, clothing, housewares, and more.
8. Temple and Ex Convent de San Juan Bautista in Coyoacan
The area around Temple and Ex Convent de San Juan Bautista in Coyoacan is filled with parks (with lots of shade for hot summer days), shops, cafes, and of course the cathedral. Weekends is the liveliest time to visit, and there is a chance you’ll come across a bride and groom walking out of the cathedral. This is a stop on the Turibus Circuito Sur route, so it’s worth taking the Turibus to get there as a taxi would cost a lot more money. Of course you can also try the city buses.
9. Street Food
The BEST food (most of the time) in Mexico can be found on the street. It’s hot, fresh, yummy, and cheap. And if you’re going to Mexico City then you MUST eat street food. Quesadillas, Torta (hot sandwiches), Tacos… try them all, you won’t be disappointed. In fact, if you’re a food truck junkie then search for Mexico City’s night food markets (there is one in Coyoacan), or hang out in Zona Rosa for food carts. Actually you can find street food pretty much everywhere in Mexico City, so go out and enjoy!!
Of course if you’re a little nervous about street food, then take a food tour to wet your whistle. After that you will definitely be hooked on street food, and Mexico City!!