Have you ever been to a place that completely blew away your expectations? For me, it was Mexico City. With over 20 million people living in the Greater Mexico City area, I was expecting a loud, crazy, and totally crammed city. What I experienced was very much the opposite. Mexico City may be one of the greenest, calmest major cities I’ve been to, with parks, trees, and beauty hiding around every corner. Although I only had four days of exploring this expansive metropolis, I’ve compiled some of my favorite things to do, found the best place to stay, and have suggestions on how to get around during your visit in this guide to Mexico City. I have a feeling it will blow away your expectations too!

 

WHAT TO DO:

 

Eat everything (and I mean everything) you see:

guide to mexico city
Don’t miss out on street tacos – it’s basically a crime.

So unless you’ve already been to Mexico or have Mexican heritage, I can basically guarantee that you’ve never had Mexican food like this before. I’m talking eye-rolling-to-the back-of-your-head-good tacos, tortas, quesadillas, sopes, and whatever the heck else I ate.

guide to mexico city
My favorite man fixing me my 12th taco al pastor of the day…

Street food is always my favorite way to eat, and I can tell you that there is no shortage of street food in Mexico City. You can get tacos as cheap as 30 cents per taco, and they are so darn good you’ll probably end up spending two whole dollars just on tacos in one sitting (trust me, it’s easy to do).

guide to mexico city
“Hmmm, should I get 1 or 5 tortas for myself?”

If you get late night cravings, don’t fear; Av. Sonora has got you covered! Basically, everything on this avenue (located in Condesa) is open 24/7 including a place called Tortas al Fuego, who claims to be the inventor of the pastor taco. Tacos al pastor is a must eat when in Mexico, and is made with shawarma spit-grilled meat and a slice of pineapple wrapped in a homemade corn tortilla.

guide to mexico city
My chorizo torta and a pastor taco. I couldn’t even wait one second to take a photo first.

There is also a juice stand just next door that can mix up any type of fresh juice or smoothie your mind can imagine, as well as a tortas stand that makes the most mouth-watering chorizo sandwich you’ve probably ever eaten. This was my first time trying a torta (tortas = Mexican street sandwiches) so by default, it was the best I’ve ever eaten, but I don’t think much can beat it!

 

Walk the tree-lined streets of Condesa & Roma Norte

guide to mexico city
Try to tell me this doesn’t look like a European sidewalk…

If you’re looking for those hipster-chic European vibes, then I think I’ve found the neighborhoods for you. Spend a morning at one of the many Parisian-esque sidewalk cafes found in Condesa and Roma Norte and watch the hip residents walking their dogs or spot various types of artists coasting down the streets. (I saw a million photographers, videographers, musicians, and painters.)  

guide to mexico city
One of the many fabulous and uber-trendy cafes found walking the streets of Roma Norte.

At the center of this area is Parque Mexico which is encircled by Av. Mexico, Avenida Amsterdam, as well as Plaza Popocatepetl where you are sure to find plenty of cafes and edgy shops to peruse. Who knows, maybe you’ll find something that can make you look as cool as the residents of this neighborhood! You’ll also notice a high percentage of VW Bugs and other cool retro cars lining the streets. They probably belong to all of the cool hipsters spotted in this area.

guide to mexico city
Another picturesque moment in Condesa.
guide to mexico city
I wanted to find the owner of this car and hug them.

Avenida Amsterdam is also a local favorite for running and exercising and there are even open-air gyms to use for free. The city has also invested in a city bike system called EcoBici, where you can rent a bike from any one of the 444 stations holding over 6,000 bikes. If you return it to another station under 45 minutes – it’s free of charge!

guide to mexico city
Jump on one of these babies and take yourself on a self-guided tour of the neighborhood – for free!
guide to mexico city
This corner really reminded me of Rome!

This was the most beautiful area that I visited during my time in the city, as I easily entertained myself for hours just by walking around, but it’s important to note the devastation I witnessed in this area. The September 19th Central Mexico earthquake struck with an estimated magnitude of 7.1. The earthquake killed 370 people, injured over 6,000 and more than 40 buildings collapsed. A large majority of the devastation hit the Condesa area.

guide to mexico city
Here was a small memorial for the victims of the earthquake. Photos of this memorial were permitted, but I refrained from taking any photos of the destruction.

I arrived in Mexico city just a few weeks after the disaster, and although the streets were cleared and the buildings were stabilized, you could see so much of the destruction. There was still police and caution tape everywhere. There were also handmade signs posted throughout the neighborhood asking to refrain from taking photos in order to respect the victims of this tragedy. I, of course, did not take any photos to honor this request, but I wanted to note that it was devastating to see, and this was weeks later. I spoke to one resident who said it was like dancing with the earth, which I thought that was a very poetic way to put such a disastrous event.

 

Fall in love with the city’s street art

guide to mexico city
A beautiful mural found in the Condesa area.

If you follow me on Instagram, you know that I love street art, and going to look for it is one of my favorite things to do when in a new city. Similar to street food, there is no shortage of street art in Mexico City either! I seemed to have found the most street art in Centro, but there is plenty to see in Roma Norte and many other parts of the city as well.

guide to mexico city
So in love with the bold, bright art in Centro.
guide to mexico city
More beautiful colors used in this mural.

The corner of Calle Isabel & Av. Republica del Salvador was the most colorful, and definitely the most concentrated area for street art in the city that I found. Unlike most street art that I’ve seen, all of the artwork was painted onto a wooden board, vs a wall of a building or store. I’m not sure if that means that it’s here only temporary, but I sure hope not – it would be a shame to see all of this beautiful art go!

guide to mexico city
You won’t find any simple details around here!
guide to mexico city
I picture this woman in the middle of a dramatic dance.

Just under 10 minutes walking from here, you can get to Calle Regina, another street art hub in Centro Historico. It’s also a fabulous street filled with bars, and bustling with residents walking to and from work. Similar to Condesa, this street, in particular, reminded me of a European alleyway.

guide to mexico city
My favorite wall on Calle Regina.
guide to mexico city
Of all the street art I saw, I think this was my favorite!
guide to mexico city
No street art in this one, but check out how European this part of Centro looks!

As I mentioned, I did come across some cool artwork in Roma Norte as well, but it wasn’t found nearly as frequently as it was in Centro. Some of my favorites were Darth Vader, a piggy pilot, and a motorcyclist (maybe astronaut?).

guide to mexico city
I am your father.
guide to mexico city
Fly piggy, fly!
guide to mexico city
Is it a motorcyclist? Astronaut? Thoughts?

Shoutout to Northern Lauren for helping me find some of this awesome street art!

 

Take a day trip to the Pyramids of Teotihuacan

guide to mexico city
Can you believe how massive this pyramid is?!

An hour and a half north of Mexico City is Teotihuacan, a pyramid complex dating back to 100 BC. It was once the largest city in the pre-Columbian Americas and was home to over 150,000 people. These pyramids are actually of unknown descent, and it was the Aztecs that named it Teotihuacan, meaning “place of the gods.”

guide to mexico city
In the background is the Pyramid of the Moon.

The Pyramid of the sun dominates the area, with a base almost as big as the Great Pyramid of Giza. The views from the top were incredible, as were the spiritual feelings. I certainly wasn’t alone, as heaps of people were meditating at the top of the pyramid. One woman was even performing some sort of energy healing on a client! The powerful energy of this place is something that needs to be experienced to believe.

guide to mexico city
I got a nice workout, too!

To get here from Mexico City, I took an Uber costing 500 MXP one way ($26 USD) which could be costly when you’re traveling solo, but if you find some other travelers and split it, it makes for a pretty cheap ride ($13 round trip if you get 3 other travelers)! To really save money, you can take a bus from Autobuses del Norte station for about $5 USD roundtrip. I can not speak for this method as I took an Uber, but I recommend reading this post for specific details! Entrance fee to the Pyramids is 70 MXP ($3.65 USD)

 

Feel the city’s heartbeat in Centro Historico

guide to mexico city
Some beautiful architecture in Centro Historico.

Like many of the historical centers in Latin American cities, Centro Historico is home to many important historical landmarks dating quite a way back. But there are few that date all the way back to the era of the Aztecs! Right in the middle of the downtown area is Templo Mayor, Aztec ruins that you can walk right on by, free of charge.

guide to mexico city
Templo Mayor, currently under restoration.
guide to mexico city
The city is basically built around these Aztec ruins – how cool is that?!

It seems that many of the locals pass by with their headphones in, not paying too much attention because they’re used to it, but for visitors, it’s quite the site to see! It reminded me of how Romans pass by thousand-year-old ruins every day without batting an eyelash, meanwhile, I’m giddy like a schoolgirl… 

guide to mexico city
Xavier Mascaro’s “Guardians” exhibition.
guide to mexico city
Plaza Seminario right before rush hour!

Around the corner is Plaza Seminario, a lively square full of energy which seemed to be a hotspot for both locals and visitors alike. What stood out the most to me were these massive wrought iron sculptures that reminded me of The Terracotta Army sculptures but from the medieval times! I found out later that this was actually Xavier Mascaro’s exhibition, “Guardians” which will be leaving for London soon!

guide to mexico city
Here come the crowds!

Right nearby is Mexico City’s main square, Zocalo, which is home to the oldest and largest Roman Catholic Cathedral in Latin America. Unfortunately, it was closed for restoration but was still very impressive from the outside. Many visitors stuck their lenses through the gates to try and snap a photo (guilty,) but It’s just not the same without checking out the interior!

 

Relax the day away at the canals of Xochimilco

guide to mexico city
Welcome to the canals of Xochimilco!

On a sunny day during your trip, I suggest heading south to the canals of Xochimilco. Here you can hire a trajinera (basically a Mexican gondola) with a guide that will take you through the dark green water of the canals. Along this peaceful ride, you’ll pass gardens, homes, women hanging their laundry, and kids running around their lawns. It’s quite a calming atmosphere!

guide to mexico city
Each of the trajinera has a name. Ours was named Monica!

Although it’s calm, there’s certainly no need to fear getting bored on this ride, as there will be plenty of opportunities to listen to a Mariachi band or a xylophone musician, and even do a little trinket shopping if you so please. On this two hour ride, you also don’t have to fear to go hungry; you’ll pass multiple food and drink vendors that will be happy to cook you up a boat-made meal (get it, like homemade, but on a boat) or sell you a bucket of bears to enjoy on your ride.

guide to mexico city
Watching our tortillas being made!
guide to mexico city
Listening to some tunes on the canals.

Although tourists love this afternoon activity, it’s more likely that you’ll see Mexican families celebrating birthdays, or teenagers looking to party with their friends for a few hours without their parents around (did I look that young when I was 18?!)

guide to mexico city
Can’t you just feel the peacefulness?

So sit back, enjoy your lunch spread, throw back a few Coronas, and let the traditional sounds of Mexico put you at peace for the afternoon.

guide to mexico city
After lunch, relax on the front of the boat and catch a tan.

One thing to keep in mind is that this is not the best solo activity. When traveling solo, it would be wise to befriend some other travelers and go in a group if you want to save some money. An Uber to get there will cost you 300 MXP ($16 USD) and the 2 hour round trip boat ride with a guide cost our group 1,200 MXP ($63 USD). Then, of course, there’s food, drinks, and tipping the musicians (if you ask for music) and the guide. For the experience, I think it’s totally worth it, but can be pricey if you decide to do it alone!

 

Channel your inner bohemian in Coyoacan

guide to mexico city
One of the many green plazas found in Coyoacan.

Coyoacan is a borough of Mexico City that is known as the bohemian/intellectual epicenter of the city. This is the neighborhood where Frida Kahlo and Diego Riviera once lived. Their home has since been turned into a museum known as La Casa Azul where you can view many of their famous works.

guide to mexico city
You’ll find stunning baroque churches all over this neighborhood.

Coyoacan is a neighborhood made of narrow cobblestone streets, small plazas, and baroque style churches that give this area a very Euro-Latin feel. Get lost in the tree-lined streets while you admire the beautiful (and very colorful) homes of this area.

guide to mexico city
This bright yellow home caught my eye.
guide to mexico city
If only I could stop at every cafe…

Make sure to also treat yourself to a coffee and a tasty treat at Cafe Negro, a cafe just outside of Parque Centenario. Cafe Negro makes a mean iced coconut milk latte and serves up some deliciously healthy salads. I always try to fit in greens whenever I can, especially when I’m spending most of my time stuffing my face with authentic street food!

guide to mexico city
Believe it or not, I didn’t even ask this local to model for me! He’s clearly a natural.
guide to mexico city
Give me the greens!

I also enjoyed walking down some of the main avenues which were strewn with vendors making homemade tortillas as well as others selling vintage goods, flowers, and just about anything you can imagine with Frida’s face on it.

guide to mexico city
Look for records, vintage electronics, and bohemian style jewelry on the streets of Coyoacan.

Looking back, I regret not buying the face shaped Frida coin purse. Next time.

 

Experience Mexican-style fine dining at Pujol

guide to mexico city
The beautiful interior of Pujol. (PHOTO CRED: loftcn.com)

I know that I already talked about food, but I decided to put Pujol as a separate thing to do, as it’s a dining experience on a whole different level. For all you Chef’s Table lovers, make sure to book your spot at Pujol, the world’s 20th best restaurant, way in advance. As a massive fan of Chef’s table myself, I was basically giddy as I walked into this modern-chic establishment, and just about lost it when our server arrived at our table with the baby corn resting in ant sauce. (Jump on Netflix and watch this episode ASAP if you haven’t already!)

guide to mexico city
The much anticipated baby corn!!! (PHOTO CRED: Travelandleisure.com)

The dynamic six-course experience features items like Rice Geoduck Clam & Scallop Mulato, Octopus Habanero Ink Ayocote Veracruzana Sauce, Wild Herb Open-Papadzul Quail Egg Chiltomate, and a 1400 Day-Old Mole, to name a few. You’ve got to be really confident to serve a plate with nothing else on it but mole. Their confidence is warranted; it was seriously that good.

guide to mexico city
But the MOST anticipated dish: 1400 day old mole. (PHOTO CRED: elsoldetampico.com.mx)

Although I’m not one to indulge in fine dining often, it’s rare to hear of a Mexican fine dining restaurant, so when we were able to sneak in a reservation, it just had to be done. The six-course tasting menu will set you back about $103 per person (not including beverages), but to me, it was well worth it and a dining experience I will never ever forget!

 

WHERE TO STAY:

 

The Red Tree House

guide to mexico city
Welcome to the Red Tree House – a B&B full of gorgeous artwork, artisanal lighting design, and some of the friendliest staff I’ve ever met!

It’s no wonder this place keeps getting the #1 spot for B&Bs in Mexico City. Their website claims it’s like staying with friends, and it most certainly rang true with my experience. From the moment I stepped into the house, I felt the warm and friendly energy wash over me. There are so many amazing things to say about this place that I’m going to break it down by section for you!

HAPPY HOUR:

guide to mexico city
Feel free to enjoy a class of wine in this stunning courtyard come Happy Hour time!

I arrived at The Red Tree House around 8 pm after a 14 hour day of travel and was exhausted. I was greeted by Victor, one of the amazing staff members who took my bags and suggested I relax in the living room with the other guests over a glass of wine. Before I knew it, I was sipping a glass of red wine by the fire, getting to know staff members and other guests from all over the world. I learned that happy hour was a nightly ritual at The Red Tree House from 6-8pm (which often turned into 9 pm!) where guests can get to know one another and unwind after a fun day of exploring. Since I am the type of person that likes to explore all day and keep it quiet at night, this was a perfect nightly activity upon arriving “home” each evening.

THE DECOR:

guide to mexico city
There are massive pieces of artwork all throughout the property.

Craig, one of the owners, is a lighting designer and all-around creative, and his impeccable taste was consistent throughout the house. Think beautiful, bold, creative local artwork, warm lighting, comfy furniture, and a fireplace in each of the living rooms which created the coziest atmosphere to relax in. The B&B also boasts a private courtyard that is home to an abundance of fruit trees, greenery, fairy lights, and fountains. It’s the perfect place to enjoy a glass of wine on a clear night or a homemade breakfast on a sunny morning.

BREAKFAST:

guide to mexico city
Sorry to make you hungry…

Speaking of the breakfast…I heard that they served a nice breakfast, but was not prepared for how delicious it was going to be! Not only did they offer coffee, tea, fresh squeezed orange juice, local pastries & bread, cereal, yogurt and fresh fruit, they also provided a main dish on top of thatThe main entree was a traditional Mexican dish that was different each morning. This nor the happy hour is an extra charge – it’s all part of the Red Tree House experience!

MY ROOM:

guide to mexico city
The bedroom & private balcony

I stayed in the Lafayette Suite and was seriously blown away. The room was on the third floor with a private entrance, kitchen (with mini fridge, small stove top, glassware, etc), dining area, and living room, with the bedroom, small terrace, and bathroom on the other side.

guide to mexico city
Really enjoying the private terrace!

The terrace had a view of the courtyard and was surrounded by trees & greenery. I kept the shades open so I could be woken up by the natural sunlight coming through the balcony windows and it was a beautiful way to wake up each morning!

guide to mexico city
This is the seating area on the other side of the room. Not pictured, the dining room and kitchen right behind this!

The room was super spacious and there was even filtered water stocked in the room each and every day of my stay. They even offer a penthouse called The Treehouse for solo travelers – my dream.

LOCATION:

guide to mexico city
I walked this path day in and day out and felt super safe!

The Red Tree House is located in Condesa, a super safe and welcoming neighborhood of Mexico City (which I talked plenty about already). I walked around by myself after dark multiple times and never felt unsafe in any capacity. Although this neighborhood suffered a lot of damage from the recent devastating earthquake, it remains a beautiful place with friendly residents that is the still the perfect place to stay while visiting this city.

THE STAFF:

guide to mexico city
Concrete jungle.

Craig, Alejandro, Pepe, Victor (just to name a few) were simply excellent hosts and provided incredible service and hospitality throughout my visit. I simply couldn’t have felt more welcome or at home. They are such generous people and are always going above and beyond to create the best experience possible for their guests.

OVERALL:

guide to mexico city
Happy as a clam!


All I can say is 3 nights was simply not enough time. I really can’t imagine a better stay and for that reason, I will return to this B&B over and over again. If you’re looking for a warm & relaxing place to call home for a few days (hopefully longer!) with an ace staff, located in a beautiful and safe neighborhood of Mexico City, this is your place.

 

HOW TO GET AROUND:

 

Uber, Taxi, & Metro

guide to mexico city
The very hard to miss CDMX taxis.

UBER:

Because I had such limited time in Mexico City, I took Ubers just about everywhere. Within the city, rides ranged from $2-$8 dollars. I took an Uber to and from the airport to/from the Condesa area which cost about 140 MXP ($7.50 USD). From Condesa to Centro Historico, it cost 104 MXP ($5.20) because there was a lot of traffic, but I assume that price would go down substantially if you hit a low traffic point (not sure if that exists in Mexico City though…) This, of course, could be a little difficult if you don’t have any data on your phone, but I managed by using free wifi that is offered at just about any cafe and in many of the city parks!

TAXI:

Taxis are more expensive than Ubers, but are super convenient and are readily available at all times. All of the CDMX taxis are painted pink and are clearly marked as official taxis, so you really can’t miss them. Mexico City seems to have a pink theme going, and I happen to love it!

METRO:

I am very sorry to admit that I didn’t take the metro one time during my visit! I’m usually such a proponent of trying public transportation in any new places that I visit, but I opted quicker and easier way in order to use my time as wisely as possible. I can tell you that it is extremely cost-effective to take the metro, costing only 5 MXP (25 US cents) per ride, so when I come back to Mexico City, I 100% plan on taking advantage of it!

 

 


Have you been to Mexico City? What was your favorite part of your visit?


 


I received a complimentary stay at The Red Tree House in exchange for my opinions, but all opinions are my own. I would never recommend somewhere I wouldn’t stay myself!


 

Wander On,

Wanderluluu xx

You May Also Like

13 comments

Reply

Thank you for my shout out! I’m 100% judging ypu for not talking the metro EVEN ONCE though. It’s suuuuch a great intro to the craziness of everyday life in the city and I miss it 🙁 one for your next visit!

Reply

I know, it’s so unlike me! This trip was a little different (we were in town for a wedding), so it was tough to do everything the way I wanted, but next time FOR SURE. I actually can’t wait to return to this place!

Reply

Awesome list of recommendations, I am headed there in a couple of weeks and cant wait to try everything on your list out!!

Reply

I am so happy to hear you liked my recommendations! I hope you have the best time on your trip, and please let me know it goes! Make sure to tag me in your Instagram posts so I can see 🙂 @wanderluluu

Reply

I am so happy I found this review today. We are heading to Mexico City and then to Puerto Escondido next weekend. We are also staying at the Red Tree House which came highly recommended by my cousin. I look forward to following your suggestions. 🙂

Reply

Hi Mindy! I am so happy to hear that you found this review helpful. You made the right decision by booking with the Red Tree House. It is truly a superior B&B experience. They say it’s like staying with friends and it becomes more like staying with family!! I hope you have an incredible time in Puerto Escondido (you’ll have to tell me about it!) and in Mexico City. Make sure to tag me on Instagram in any photos you post on Instagram or Facebook so I can see how your trip went! All the best xx

Reply

Beautiful photos! I’d love to visit Mexico City x

https://emmaboughtwhat.blogspot.co.uk

Reply

Hi Emma, thanks so much for the positive feedback! Mexico City is such an incredible place – I can’t wait to go back! I hope you get to visit someday too! If you end up planning a trip, I hope this blog post can help! xx

Reply

Mexico City was such a hidden gem as most people skip it and go to the beaches instead. It’s one of my fave cities full or art, history, and culture! Tip: the metro has the first 1-2 carriages for children and women – which is less crowded than the other carriages!

Reply

Couldn’t agree more – it’s often overlooked because of all the coastal beauty in Mexico. I’m a massive big-city-lover though, so the DF has my heart. Awesome note about the metro – sounds like the women & children train cars in Kuala Lumpur!

Reply

Wow, I had no idea about Mexico City but now I am adding this to my list — I was almost tempted to change my fall travel plans from Medellin to Mexico City! But, I really want to go to Medellin so Mexico City will be on the list for the future for sure!

Then I asked my friend, who once worked as a foreign correspondent in Cancun, and she raved about Mexico City. Thanks for all the recommendations!

Reply

I’m so happy to hear I helped inspire a potential visit to Mexico City. As you probably could tell by my post – I’m in LOVE!!! But I’m equally as in love with Medellin (maybe more), though probably because I know it so much better. Enjoy your time in Medellin and let me know when you decide to make it to Mexico City! As always, feel free to reach out if you have any questions in the future 🙂

Reply

Thanks so much! I’m actually using your Medellin posts a lot in my trip planning — I like that you include which hostels are “lively” and which places provide peace and quiet — I mostly seek out the latter! And I’m planning a week at the Spanish Immersion school, completely based on your review. I’ve been working on Spanish, mostly through Duolingo, but I’m semi-fluent in Japanese so at some point I got over that fear barrier of trying to speak another language. I had a week of only being able to speak Japanese in Japan and that got me over the hump! I’m hoping the immersion school will help bring me to a small degree of fluency, and it sounds like a great way to meet interesting people too!

But anyway, thanks again for this great post on Mexico City — it’s definitely going high up on my list of places to visit! If I didn’t have my heart set on Medellin I think I might go there this year instead.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *