Mexico City (CDMX) is a vibrant, vast metropolis with a massive population of around 8.8 million people, that’s more than New York City. The city has amazing nightlife, shopping opportunities, and diverse cuisine. In fact, it has a few of the best restaurants and bars in the world, and one of the most exciting street food scenes around.
Let’s be honest, the big city can be scary, so it’s good to have insights before you visit. A local CityPal can help you make the best of your time in Mexico City and take you to the hidden gems only locals know about. Let’s cover the basics:
Mexico has a complex transport system that carries millions of people every day, around the clock. The city has a comprehensive subway system that is cheap and easy to use and can take you to every place that matters. Every transit line has a color, and every station has a distinctive icon – you don’t even have to read to find your way. You’ll be cruising the city like an expert after a few rides.
Uber has a strong presence in Mexico City and is safer than taxis although more expensive. Airport taxis and established taxi companies are more reliable to use than regular ones, which can be a gamble. Sadly, in a city of this size, not everyone is well intended. Buses are affordable too and go to-and-from every corner of town, but you need local knowledge to catch the right one.
Anyway, avoid rush hour, and keep your belongings close to your chest. To save time and hassle, have a CityPal help you to find your way around and to use public transportation.
Like any city, there are places to avoid, but touristic and commercial neighborhoods are as safe as any first world country. Still – don’t wander around alone late at night and don’t talk to strangers, don’t bring all your money with you, and just be safe. The same common-sense rules you would follow in your hometown apply in CDMX.
The video below shows how a group of pickpockets targets individuals and travelers in Mexico City. They coordinate with one another and create a diamond formation around the target. Paying attention to your surroundings will allow you to identify the suspicious behavior of people around and avoid becoming a target of pick-pocketing.
Street food, as anywhere else, can be made in unsanitary conditions, so follow the locals. Mexican people will try anything once, but will only return to the tastiest, and cleanest stalls.
A local CityPal can take you to his or her favorite spots, but with so many places available, everyone has their own “best” place for tacos, quesadillas, tamales, and more.
Let’s talk about a few key neighborhoods to know and love, these are also great places to stay, so read on.
Condesa neighborhood started as a quiet residential area until a few local, quality-oriented restaurants popped up 20 years ago. Today it’s the trendiest, hippest neighborhood in the city. Restaurants, bars, and nightclubs thrive and attract locals and tourists alike, every evening.
A cultural hub, this part of town boasts neoclassic and Art Déco architecture, libraries, and art galleries. Don’t expect to find many traditional Mexican restaurants in Condesa: French bistros, Argentinian steakhouses, vegan eateries, Parisian cafes, and sushi bars are around every corner. Bicycle friendly, you can spend a few days exploring Condesa.
Polanco is Mexico City’s financial center, restless and energetic. The district is home to luxury brands and high-end restaurants. The 11th best bar in the world, Limantur is an obligatory visit, but it’s just the cherry on the cake of the amazing gastronomic offer in Polanco. Book in advance and save up to visit Mexico’s best modern Mexican cuisine restaurant: Pujol, one of the most respected restaurants today.
The Soumaya Museum has the most significant private collection of Rodin sculptures and lots of European art. The building itself is a work of art, and the area around it thrives with shopping and dining options.
A city this size would not survive with a few splashes of green. Chapultepec, meaning the grasshopper’s hill is an evergreen park and the lung of the city, it’s twice as big as New York’s Central Park. This true forest hosts a few of the most interesting places to visit: The city’s zoo, the Anthropology Museum and the Castle that sits on top of the hill, now the National History Museum. A whole day might not be enough to see it all and be prepared to walk. The sights are worth it. Learn about Mexican history, from the Aztecs to modern times, and enjoy ice cream, on a green bench, greeted by curious squirrels.
These are only a few of the beautiful places to visit in Mexico City, but there’s more, much more. Explore the city yourself, or even better with a local guide. Dine around, dance, have a drink then repeat. Welcome to Mexico City.
Feel free to post your recommendations for Mexico City highlights in the comments section below.