Guide to Mexico City, Mexico

January 28, 2019

Walking in Polanco in the Guide to Mexico City, Mexico

Mexico City is a huge metropolis filled to the brim with nearly 20 million people. In a place this big, it’s probably no surprise that there something for everyone.

Brave the traffic in an Uber to explore a neighborhood with immaculate museums and tasting menus at high-end restaurants along tree-lined boulevards. Then, hop in the metro to explore another area with colorful markets, colonial buildings, and a collection of pulque bars.

No matter where you go, you’ll be surrounded by insanely good food, art, and culture. And, of course, masses and masses of people!

Museums

Museo Soumaya
Although more than 66,000 pieces of art are housed in this modern building, the architecture is the main attraction of this museum. Once you are done ogling the metal hexagonal tiles covering the outside of the cyclone-shaped building, find your way to the top floor of the museum that houses the largest collection of cast sculptures by Auguste Rodin (outside France that is). Admission is free!

Fundación Jumex
Located right next to Museo Soumaya, it’s worth paying to tour the contemporary art collection in this smallish museum. Exhibitions cover just as many Latin American artists as big names of the Western world like Jeff Koons and Andy Warhol.

Frida Kahlo Museum
Any fan of Frida will enjoy a peak into her home famously painted blue and filled with artifacts from her colorful life. Lines can get long with a wait of up to three or four hours so arrive before opening for shorter wait times. You may also consider buying tickets ahead of time.

National Museum of Anthropology
Covering almost 20 acres, this expansive museum has 20 rooms filled with ancient artifacts as well as ethnological exhibits that depict indigenous life in Mexico today. The original Aztec Sunstone is a must-see but you’ll want to give yourself ample time to explore and get lost.

Do and See

Casa Pedregal
Anyone into modern design will make the pilgrimage to Casa Pedregal in the southwestern area of the city. Designed by famed Mexican architect Luis Barragán, the home features clean lines that find harmony with the local lava rock formations. After you tour around, go next door to check out the shop, library, and restaurant at Tetetlan.

Lucha Libre at Arena México
Join up to 16,000 lucha libre fans for a night of good old-fashioned fun at this massive arena. You’ll fall in love with the dramatic stories of each luchador and be in awe of their acrobatic abilities. Fights occur Tuesdays, Fridays, and Sundays and good seats can be purchased on Ticket Master for about $15-20. You may also want to upgrade to the VIP experience for about $50 dollars to watch from the enclosed area that offers comfy seats, a free buffet, and waitstaff taking drink orders.

Explore the Coyoacán Neighborhood
Known as an artistic hub, you can easily spend an entire day exploring his tranquil, bohemian neighborhood. It’s home to Frida Kahlo’s home, Leon Trotsky’s former residence where he was murdered, and other cultural destinations including the institutions the Cineteca Nacional and the Centro Cultural y Social Veracruzano. Be sure to check out the Mercado and explore the various plazas.

Chapultepec
Mexico City does a lot of things well but parks are at the top of the list and this one is the grand daddy of them all. Take a stroll through the oldest and most popular part of the park near the Polanco and Roma neighborhoods.

Zócalo and Diego Rivera’s Murals at the Palacio Nacional
Head to the Plaza de la Constitucion (more commonly known as the Zócalo) to get your fill of historic buildings and sites like the Catedral Metropolitan, Templo Mayor, Palacio Postal, and Palacio Nacional. It’s free to go into the Palacio Nacional and view Diego Rivera’s iconic murals. The History of Mexico mural in the stairwell depicts historical moments from the conquest and colonial period to the revolution and more recent events of the late 1940s and early 1950s.

Eat and Drink

Quintonil
Treat yourself to the tasting menu at this intimate, modern restaurant. Chef Jorge Vallejo leans on his training with legend Enrique Olvera of Pujol but also holds his own with adventurous dishes featuring indigenous ingredients. Strongly advise making reservations ahead of time.

Blanco Colima
Feeling fancy? Make a dinner reservation at this chic-yet-welcoming spot housed in a mansion decorated in black, white, and marble. Although the cuisine has no real theme or genre, the small plates are all delicious and the service is attentive. Not looking for a meal? Grab a cocktail in the minimalist lounge era. You may get lucky and happen upon a film screening or live music performance.

Contramar
Seafood lovers have no excuse but to eat lunch at this famed restaurant in the Condesa neighborhood where you can enjoy the freshest fish cooked in the most creative ways. Chef Gabriela Cámara’s most famous dishes are the atun tostadas and red snapper, but you really can’t go wrong with anything from the a la carte menu. Call ahead for reservations, it’s popular for a reason!

Loup Bar
Located in Roma Norte, this wine bar features natural wines chosen by a French ex-pat and small bites made by local Chef Joaquin Cardoso. The vibe is modern yet sophisticated and the staff are warm and welcoming. Heads up, natural wines err on the expensive side so you may only want to spring for a glass or two with a few small plates to share.

Churrería El Moro
Deeply regret not making it to this legendary churro shop so enjoy a sweet treat on my behalf. Look forward to their delicious churros, signature blue branding, and reknowned friendly service in one of the five locations around the city.

Tips and Tricks

The air in Mexico City is thinner because it sits at an elevation of 7,382 feet, which can sometimes give you a headache or make you feel out of breath. Keep yourself extra hydrated until you adapt (usually a couple days).

For the most part, the weather is fairly mild with temperatures ranging from the 60s to 80s throughout the year. Although you can expect rain most days during the rainy season (June through September), the rainfall doesn’t last long and you can often wait it out before heading to your next destination.

Ubers are abundant and fairly inexpensive so it’s the easiest way to get around. When you get tired of the traffic, it’s worth taking a trip on the Metro to see how most of the locals get around. Some stations have art installations or small museum-like exhibitions, which adds a little something to the experience.

P.S. Some tips for packing light and some other places you may want to visit.