8 Reasons to Visit Mexico City
I try to visit México City at least once a year. Yes, what calls me is family but also the fact that no matter how many times I go, there is always something new to see. Not to mention the food. I think I mostly do it for the food. Here are 8 reasons why you need to add México City to your list.
8. Castles and Palaces
It's a white, marble palace that stands out for me; Palacio de Bellas Artes, a fine arts center in downtown México City. This palace is home to world class performances who set up behind a stained-glass curtain assembled by Tiffany & Co from almost a million pieces of colored glass. The walls are draped in historic murals including Diego Rivera's famous "El Hombre en el Cruce de Caminos" (Man at the Crossroads).
Also worth a visit are the Palacio Nacional (National Palace), Castillo de Chapultepec (Castle of Chapultepec), and Palacio de Correos de México (Palace of the National Post Office) to name a few.
7. Trajineras in Xochimilco
México's version of Venice, if you will. Xochimilco is lined with canals where some colorful trajineras (flat-bottomed boats) tour day visitors while others row alongside with food, music, and souvenirs. For a small fee, mariachis or marimba players will tie their boat to yours and sing your favorite songs as you weave through the canals. This is a unique spot that you won't soon forget.
You'll quickly start to feel the history stored in the walls of this small district in México City. Coyoacán was first founded in the 7th century, later filled with Spanish conquistadors, and later still, home to famous Mexican painters, Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. Their artistic flair influenced Coyoacán's historic downtown which succeeds in retaining its small town charm in the middle of a megalopolis.
When you visit, you've got to try esquites and churros while as you stroll around the plaza. This is also the perfect place to admire artisan crafts. There is a multi-story artisan market where two to three hours easily pass by.
5. National Museum of Anthropology
There are several worthwhile museums in México City but if you can only make it to one, make it to this one. There is a hall dedicated to each cultural region of Mesoamerica, not to mention the giant Sun Stone depicting the Aztec calendar.
4. Estadio Azteca
If you're a futbol fan, you don't want to miss the opportunity to watch a game at Estadio Azteca. Home to México's national team and México City's beloved Pumas, any game is a good ol' time.
3. Cathedral and Templo Mayor
You also won't regret checking out the largest cathedral in all of North and South America. Built over 250 years starting in the early 1500's, this Gothic- and Baroque-style architectural marvel spares no extravagance. It is worth taking a tour of the bell towers and taking in the view of Mexico City's historic downtown from the roof of the cathedral.
But there is history beneath its floors, too! The Spanish built the cathedral atop the ruins of Templo Mayor, one of the largest known Aztec temples, after destroying it as a symbol of colonization. Today, Templo Mayor has been turned into a museum that houses the largest collection of Aztec artifacts in the world.
This day trip is worth the trek (around 2 hours depending on traffic). Teotihuacán is home to an amazing archaeological park where new tunnels and treasures under pyramids are still being discovered today. The value of the cultural history of this site is immeasurable but what's even more magical is getting to feel it in your hands and under your feet. You can walk the Avenue of Teotihuacán and climb to the top of the Pyramid of the Sun. There are no barriers between you and thousands of years of history. This is truly an immersive experience.
Climbing to the top of the Pyramid of the Sun is the most popular activity as it's the tallest pyramid and sits at the center of the park, but those looking for a slightly shorter climb (or are up for a second-climb!) can choose to climb the Pyramid of the Moon which boasts unobstructed views of the Avenue of Teotihuacán and the Pyramid of the Sun.
1. Tacos al Pastor
By far the best tacos al pastor in the world are found in seemingly not noteworthy corners of México City. There is nothing like a spinning trompo to get my mouth watering. A warm tortilla, shavings of slow-cooked carne al pastor, fresh pineapple, cilantro, and homemade salsas... need I say more?
I always get asked if México City is safe. In short, my answer is that it's as safe as other megalopolises around the world. You could get mugged walking around México City just as you could get mugged walking around New York or Barcelona. My best advice is to be a respectful, responsible, and knowledgeable traveler, wherever your travels may lead.