Sure it's the second largest city in the entire Western Hemisphere, which can be overwhelming, however, Mexico City (more often referred to as CDMX) is one of the most vibrant, dynamic, culturally rich and alluring cities I have been to – and I have been to A LOT! The first time I visited the city I was a bit apprehensive, but I instantly fell in love with it and all it has to offer and left with a yearning to go back. On my second trip, which was just recently, I spent my last day plotting out my new life there! It’s that's kind of city, you can’t help but fall in love with the colours, beauty and culture.
While it is notoriously known for its pollution, traffic and of course crime – a reputation unwarranted and misleading – there is so much more to this sophisticated city than people think or give it credit for. With the unique architecture and design, a deeply rooted history, multiple UNESCO sites, an abundance of museums, charming and helpful people, mouthwatering food, metropolitan nightlife and so much beauty, there is something, or should I say, everything for everyone here.
With that being said, here is exactly why you should drop every hesitation and preconceived notion and visit Mexico City now!
Mexico City is a great option for a metropolitan getaway as your money can go much further here than most major cities meaning life’s luxuries are all that more attainable!
There are so many options when it comes to accommodation and you’ll be shocked at how affordable it can be. Luxury hotels easily and often go for under $200 a night and there are so many unique boutique design hotels in every neighbourhood suiting a wide price range.
As for dining, I think this is the only city where you can eat at one of the best restaurants in the world for under $100 per person with alcohol or indulge in a tasting menu for just over $100 per person. On the flip side, you can also eat your way through the city for next to nothing if you so choose without sacrificing quality.
Getting around is also quite cheap as Ubers are very inexpensive – which is great as you probably won’t want to be taking public transportation nor regular taxis.
It Has A World-Class Food Scene
Mexico City is becoming a huge food destination and once you have been you will understand just why. The food is so diverse and fresh with more variety and options than you will know what to do with.
The city is getting more and more internationally known for its numerous fine dining establishments and trendy restaurants serving a variety of Mexican and International cuisines. It’s especially getting attention for being home to world-renowned chefs as it hosts two restaurants on The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2018 List, Pujol and Quintonil.
Equally as famous is the street food scene here. With countless, legitimate street vendors as well as upscale and traditional markets the options are never ending. Let’s also not forget the fact the city has enough coveted taco establishments to keep you busy, after all it is kind of what they are known for.
It’s a Design & Architectural Haven
Showcasing a variety of contradicting architectural styles, an exquisite use of colour and draping itself in greenery at every opportunity, Mexico City is seriously one of the most aesthetically pleasing cities!
The mix of the Neoclassical Chapultepec Castle, the Art Nouveau meets Art Deco style of the Palacio de Bellas Artes, the cutting edge geometric monstrosity of the Museo Soumaya, the colourful artsy neighbourhoods of Roma and Condesa comprising everything from eclecticism to classical to modern, the interior genius of Casa Gilardi and the pre-Hispanic representation still prevalent throughout the city makes a beautiful compilation that anyone will appreciate.
Rich in Culture, Sites & History
Boasting the second highest number of museums in the world (trailing London by just a tad), a thriving art scene, well preserved history and culture in everyday life, architecture, cuisine, numerous and worthy sites around the city, including the ancient archaeological site of Teotihuacan (UNESCO), there is literally something for every. In fact, there is so much to do in the city, you it would take you multiple visits to really see everything.
With an abundance of markets in and around the city, unique boutiques and innovative concept stores filling the streets of the Roma, Condesa, Juarez and Polanco neighbourhoods and the coveted shopping street of Avenida Presidente Masaryk (think Fifth Avenue type shopping) filled with international brands and high end designer shops, this city can be deemed a shoppers mecca.
A Diverse Nightlife
Mexico City has a vibrant nightlife scene that spills into the early morning hours. No matter your tastes, age or orientation you can find anything to suite anyone dive bars, micro-breweries, wine bars, rooftop lounges, gay bars, speakeasys and raging clubs where bottle service is the norm.
It Will Open Your Mind
Lastly, you will find yourself shifting perspectives for the better. Mexico in general is given a bad reputation in the media for its gangs, crime rates, border crisis, etc., which leaves people fearing it’s monstroserous capital. I am not going to ignore the dangers that exist in large metropolitan cities such as Mexico City and all other major cities around the world, but from my experience this is definitely an unwarranted and complete misrepresentation, but that’s the power of the media!
The gentrified and glamorous neighbourhoods of Condesa, Roma, Juarez, Polanco and Reforma are safe to walk around at any time of day or night. The trendy bars and restaurants that lines the streets in these areas are overflowing with trendy locals and tourists you never feel alone. It is an easy city to navigate as most people speak English, infrastructure is great and thanks to Uber getting around is easy and cheap! The locals are so welcoming and helpful, and the overall demeanor of the city is calm and collective, despite its massive population and traffic issues.
So long as you stay in the good neighbourhoods you will be perfectly fine, but with that being the golden rule for most major cities, don’t let the hearsay get the best of you.
Some of my suggestions on where to eat, what to do and see, shops you don't want to miss and suggestions on where to stay are as follows:
WHERE TO STAY:
Four Seasons Mexico City - Probably the absolute best and most expensive option in the city.
Hotel Habita - A reasonably priced modern boutique design hotel with a roof top pool. A unique spot in the glitzy Polanco district which mainly houses larger chain hotels.
TRAVEL TIP: While the Downtown Mexico hotel is a stunning spot, I highly suggest NOT staying in the historical center (Zocalo). The area is considered more dangerous than others and come night when the tourists leave and the streets quiet down it becomes a bit more dodgy.
Quintonil – Coming in at #11 on The World's 50 Best Restaurant list, dinner or lunch here is a must. Although I will say I prefer it for lunch as its small and quiet and the skylight in the back of the dining room provides for a bright midday dining experience. It's a toss up when deciding who's mole is better (theirs or Pujol's) but I highly suggest trying it.
Pujol – Slagging behind by only 2 spots on the "50 Best" list I would say dinner here is a must and so is the tasting menu. Their dessert mole is as good as they say it is!
Contramar – Making The World's 50 Best Restaurant's Latin American list, this perfect for along weekend lunch (which is about 2pm Mexico City time). One of the best seafood restaurants I have been to. You need to try the house ceviche, the fish tacos, Pescado a la Talla Contramar, and the tuna tostada!
Rosetta – The most beautiful restaurant I have been to with the food to match and also on the '50 Best' Latin list. The green mole with tamale is amazing as is the green pasta with duck! Great for a Saturday lunch as it is closed Sunday and book ahead, its hard to get a spot here.
Blanco Colima - Occupying what seems to be a stunning mansion house in the Roma district, Blanco Colima is a bustling restaurant with numerous dining rooms, a lounge equipped with a DJ and a bar frequented by the stylish people of CDMX.
Maximo Bistrot -
Local 1 - casual wine bar
El Turix - A small and extremely casual walk up/in taco shop on the glamorous Polanco district serving crispy, freshly fries tortillas stuffed with re-fried beans, loaded with their famous slow cooked Yucatan pork and a little onion to top it off. They serve the food on plastic plates covered in plastic but don't let that out you off - this place is legendary and extremely cheap!
El Califa - Known as more of a late night spot, you may have to wait in line for a table at 2am, this place serves a variety of delicious tacos but what really stands out for me is the fried cheese taco shell option!!
Palacio de Bellas Artes
List actual markets – mention San Angel
Pop Up Markets are always taking place in the La Roma and Condesa neighbourhoods in which you can find some hidden gems.
La Cuidadela Mercado
Bazaar Sabado / San Angel Artist market - Only open on Saturdays, this market has tourists flocking to the San Ángel neighbourhood. Its a much more reputable version of the classic tianguis that are also ubiquitous in Mexico appealing to the fashion and art interested people. The area itself has a bohemian feel and the houses in the area are worth wandering the streets. It can take quite awhile to get here in an Uber but worth a morning visit.
Lago - Polanco - upscale but unique and quality pieces.
Pasaje Polanco - outdoor shopping area
Boutique at the Four Seasons -
- Katherine xo