If you have been itching for a weekend getaway, Mexico City is just a few hour flight away from the US and has so much to offer for a fun weekend getaway from amazing food, cultural attractions, and history. The American tourism has not fully developed there yet so the prices are low, people are friendly and its hassle free. Couple days in Mexico City will give you a good taste and idea of the life in this busy city, but you could spend a week there and still find new, interesting things to see and do. Here are suggestions for must see places, food, things to do, travel tips and everything else you may need to know for your getaway to Mexico City.
One of the best parts about traveling is trying different foods. When it comes to Mexico City, their cuisine does not disappoint! And their specialty is not just dollar street tacos (of which there were plenty and all equally delicious). Here are some amazing food places worthy of checking out in Mexico City:
Best fancy meal: Merotoro
For about $30/person at Merotoro, you can try out some of the best food and wine in Mexico City. I’ll be honest, I had no idea what most things meant on the menu. Partially because it was in Spanish and partially because the chefs use unique ingredients in their meals. But even if I can’t say the ingredient names, I can surely taste them and they tasted delicious! The plates come in smaller sizes so we tried multiple plates with red meats and fish and each plate the servers brought out was better than the last.
While the restaurant is pretty fancy with nicely done wooden interior, it is also very relaxed with one side of the restaurant is open to the street. If it rains during your dinner (which it often does in Mexico City in the evenings) you can enjoy your dinner with a beautiful backdrop of rain and trees outside feeling very exotic, almost jungle-like, yet upper-scale.
Hippest food place: Mercado Roma
If you are a foodie on a low budget looking for a unique vibe and atmosphere, Mercado Roma is the place for you. Mercado Roma is the equivalent of an indoor food court stuffed full with top food trucks that serve quick and delicious meals with wine and beer bars in between the various vendors. For $8 you can score the best steak and $5 for a great glass of wine to accompany it.
The seating is open space, family style with long tables. The interior is very modern with bright colors and vertical garden out back with plants covering back the wall of the seating area. If you are lucky, you may even find a seat next to a churro stand and drool while watching vendors make fresh churros. The only tip is to come hungry!
Most unique restaurant: La Guapachosa
La Guapachosa is a restaurant that was introduced to us by a few locals that we met in Mexico City. We wanted to try “something different” and we sure got what we asked for. The interior of La Guapachosa is funky and fun. If you come early, you might even score a seat made out of a swing at their bar top. At La Guapachosa you can try Mezcal, a smoky tequila-like liquor often made with worms, mole or even…snake venom. Yes, you read that right. The Mezcal shots are best accompanied with a side of orange and ground worm salt. Mezcal is meant to be enjoyed sipping slowly to truly enjoy the smoky flavor. Besides their drinks, La Guapachosa food is also equally fun and delicious. Watch out for the habanero mango salsa! It is so delicious and addictive but will leave your mouth burning for a while. And don’t forget to ask for a side of crickets!
Best street tacos: Tortas Al Fuego
You can’t go to Mexico and not try out dollar street tacos. From all the places we tried tacos, the best ones were hands down at Tortas Al Fuego. It’s a small mom and pop type of taco shop with quick service and endless tacos. For around $1 you can get 5 small tacos, but their specialty, as their name indicates, is torta sandwiches. It’s the perfect place if you are exploring the city “on the go” and just want to grab a few delicious yet cheap tacos on your way to the next museum.
Great cheap drinks and food: Flora Lounge
Flora Lounge is one of the most adorable cafes in Mexico City. They serve awesome sandwiches, salads, and amazing drinks, but all at very affordable prices. The café is very laid back and personal. Flora Lounge’s chill vibe attracts many tourists that live in this area along with the young local hipster crowd that would rather enjoy a glass of amazing wine with good company than go out to a bar or a club. The service is quick and friendly but has a feel that every drink and plate is made with care.
Mexico City is quickly rising as the “cool” hipster place everyone is starting to visit. Many of the neighborhoods are filling up with young, working professionals that are interested in the same things that American 25-35-year-olds are…great food, fancy drinks and a good time!
The two most popular neighborhoods for young professionals are Condesa and Roma. In these neighborhoods, you can find restaurants from world class food to cheap, delicious meals. Even the top three-course meal with drinks won’t cost you more than $25-$30 per person, something that in the US would cost you at least double. And that’s on the top end. You can easily find an amazing steak or salmon dinner at one of these neighborhoods for $10 per meal.
Condesa and Roma are perfect neighborhoods for travelers because these neighborhoods are clean, crime free and fun. At Condesa, you can find a $15/night Air B&B that is clean and well kept. As you walk around these neighborhoods you can find anything from local cuisine and cute cafes to whiskey bars or tequila lounges. La Condesa neighborhood is filled with trees and luscious green parks and most locals own a dog or two, so don’t be surprised to see many people walking around with their pooches dressed up in adorable sweaters. In Roma and Condesa there won’t be any locals following you around trying to sell you a souvenir or a tour, something that is extremely common in many resort cities like Cabo or Ensenada. At restaurants you won’t be charged for something you didn’t order and the prices are always low. You will be treated just like any other local.
MUST-SEE LANDMARKS AND MUSEUMS
Mexico City has over 130 museums so the choices for what to see on your trip to Mexico City are unlimited. But we know that you don’t want to spend your entire trip hopping from a museum to a museum, so here are our top favorite “must see” attractions in Mexico City. And in case you were wondering, yes, these places are all very Instagrammable and Snapchat worthy.
Palace of Fine Arts (Palacio de Bellas Artes)
The Palace of Fine Arts is an elaborately built, large white building with a beautiful dome on top in bright red, yellow, and orange colors. This cultural center which typically houses musical events is also accompanied with lush green gardens in the front. The best view to marvel at this masterpiece can be found by sneaking into the top levels of a multi-story Sears right across the street to snatch some awesome photos. Don’t worry, you won’t be the only tourist trying to do the same. Just pretend that you are shopping for new bedding or cargo pants and you will be just fine!
Teotihuacan Pyramids (Piramides de Teotihuacan)
The Teotihuacan Pyramids, located an hour drive away from Mexico City’s downtown, are part of an ancient city established 100 BC that stood strong for centuries as the hot spot for trade, industry, religious activities and daily life. The Teotihuacan city is long gone, but now the pyramids are being recovered and reconstructed which has turned the pyramids and the ancient city into a highly visited attraction by local and international tourists. A trip to Mexico City would not be complete without spending a day exploring the Teotihuacan Pyramids, which boasts wonders like the Pyramid of the Sun, the thirst largest pyramid in the world. To read more about visiting Teotihuacan Pyramids go HERE.
Chapultepec Castle (Castillo De Chapultepec)
The Chapultepec castle, built in 1775, has passed down its ownership between multiple people and now serves as a history museum showcasing art, furniture, and even a carriage. Tourists can walk around the castle and enjoy the panoramic view overlooking Mexico City from the top of the hill where it’s located or take a stroll around the castle gardens. Make sure to set aside at least 2 hours for the castle on your trip.
Metropolitan Cathedral (Catedral Metropolitana)
Metropolitan Cathedral, located in the middle of the Historical Center, is unique not only because it’s the largest cathedral in the Americas, but it’s also built on top of old Aztec ruins. The cathedral is elaborately decorated on the outside as it is on the inside. Intricate details cover the entire outside façade of the cathedral that takes up a whole city block. As you walk on the inside you are greeted with sky high ceilings in baby blue colors as if you are gazing up into the heaven. The inside of the cathedral holds multiple praying rooms, each decorated in gold and grander than the one before it.
The Great Temple (Templo Mayor)
One of the best spots to observe the uncovered Aztec ruins in Mexico City is the Great Temple viewpoint located right next to the Metropolitan Cathedral. At this site, tourists can walk in between the ruins imagining what life was like before the Spanish invasion. The Aztec temples and Mexico City foundation was built on top of a lake so over time the ruins and Mexico City keeps sinking in. To keep this pyramid at the same height, the Aztecs kept adding more layers on top of the sinking temple. At the Great Temple viewpoint, tourists can observe 6 different layers and styles of the ruins that were added on over the years.
For more amazing museums and landmarks, click for our extended list HERE.
Mexico City is one of the largest metropolitan cities in the world and with that comes traffic and challenges of getting around. Here are some tips for best ways on how to navigate in Mexico City:
- If you can, walk around! Many of the neighborhoods in Mexico City like Condesa and Roma are safe to walk around, even at late hours. Most tourist attractions are located in Old Town (Centro Historico) and within a few minute walk of each other
- Uber is a good way to get around for longer distances. However, sometimes Uber drivers tend to overcharge or get lost. Use Uber Pool instead of Uber X for better rates
- Stay away from Taxis because they tend to overcharge
- Metros are fast and reliable, but can get very packed during rush hours, especially the closer you get to downtown. If you are taking a metro, try to board towards the front, by the “woman and children” section. Check out this video of rush hour in Mexico City’s metro:
- Many places don’t accept debit/credit cards and cash is still the king in Mexico City
- Whenever possible, always use your travel credit card instead of a debit card so if you are overcharged, you can dispute charges when you get back home. Avoid using debit card except to withdraw money from ATM
- The local currency is pesos
- 10% is the tipping norm and you have to flag down your server when you are ready for your check. In Mexican customs, it may be perceived rude of the servers to bring the check unless asked for, so if you don’t ask for it, you’ll be sitting there waiting forever
- Most people in Mexico don’t speak English
- Menus and street signs are all in Spanish. Learn some basic phrases before going so you can get around
- Do not drink the tap water, it is not safe to drink. Some people even suggest using bottled water for washing your teeth if you are extremely sensitive
- Air B&B is a great choice for cheap accommodations
- Most tourists get a local “chip card” (sim card) for their phones to use the internet, social media apps, and cell services. Some US cell providers have free service in Mexico, such as T-Mobile and Google’s Project Fi
- Most cafes and restaurants don’t offer reliable WIFI for customers
- Most museums and attractions are closed on Mondays
Mexico City is often overlooked as a travel destination because of a perception that it is corrupt and filled with crime but it is no different than any major US city. Being one of the most populated cities in the world, caution and common sense should always be used when traveling and you can easily avoid any trouble. Mexico City is filled with many amazing landmarks and neighborhoods that are quickly rising as the new cool areas – neighborhoods that are safe and filled with young professionals whose only crime is being too hipster. Mexico City has so much to offer as far as sightseeing, cuisine, and attractions, and being just a few hours flight away from the US, it is absolutely a place everyone must experience.