Despite our hundreds of countries and thousands of miles covered over the years, we had never made it to Ciudad de Mexico until late 2021. At that time we came just to enjoy a week long Eating My Way Through Mexico City food tour…thinking that was all there was to do. Boy were we wrong. So, we couldn’t wait to get back to this fascinating and historic place because there is just so much to love about Mexico City.
Ciudad de Mexico
Beyond the food – which is phenomenal and inexpensive, CDMX has some of the friendliest people, most beautiful architecture, incredible ancient and recent history, fantastic parks and green spaces, so many museums and… well should I mention the food again? So on this our second visit, we dug deeper to find more of the heart of this place which helped us to realize there is so much to love about Mexico City.
Museo Nacional de Anthropologia
We spent three amazing hours at the Museo Nacional de Anthropologia and you could easily spend an entire day. A vast and impressive collection that chronicles the ancient and recent history of the geology, people, and arts of Mexico. One of the best museums I have ever been to any where in the world…and that is saying something. Tours are available but it is simple enough to do without a guide. Entry fee is around $5. The museum also houses a fantastic restaurant with foods that focus on each distinctive region of Mexico. Do not miss.
Free Walking Tour
On our last visit we did an incredible free walking tour (tip-based) in the regions surrounding the beautiful historic centro area. I highly recommend that if it’s your first visit to Mexico City. This time we decided to do a free walking tour of the Roma Condesa, the neighborhood where our hotel was. We used Estacion Mexico, the same tour we used last year. Our guide Eduardo was funny, knowledgeable and passionate about this place. We loved it!
We try to do cultural performances whenever we can. And we often do performances just to see local performance venues. This Ballet Folkloric gave us both opportunities. The show was one of the best I have ever seen with music, dancing, acrobatics and more…performed in one of the most beautiful theaters I have ever visited, the Palacio de Belles Arts. Do not miss this show.
Eat Like a Local Mexico City
When we visited before, we spent five days with Eat Like a Local Mexico learning, tasting, cooking and seeing the wonders of the history and culture of Mexican food. We enjoyed our new friends and we definitely wanted to tour with them again. Eat Like a Local Mexico owner Rocio created a personal tour for us and guided us herself. A special treat for us was starting our tour with a cooking class learning to make Octopus Tacos with Chef Diego at Temporal. Then we worked our way around the city enjoying so much wonderful local food from tacos pastor to tamales and the finale was a very unique dessert made from mushrooms. Be absolutely sure to book with Eat Like a Local Mexico when you visit Mexico City. Don’t choose any other food tour…and don’t eat before your tour!!
I booked our dinner reservation at Pujol seven months in advance, because I did not want to miss having dinner at this restaurant, one of the top five restaurants in the world. It is expensive, but it was a wonderful experience to enjoy some very unique and beautifully presented dishes. And the service was outstanding. Cost was $165 per person before alcohol or tips for the prix fixe dinner. This price and experience were similar to the prix fixe dinners we had in both Maui at Merriman’s and in Giverny France at Jardin de Plumes.
Pronounced Loo-Cha Lee-Bra, this national Mexican past time is a spectacle and a lot of fun. I wasn’t sure I was going to enjoy it but I loved it. It’s a real performance that requires a lot of athleticism and choreography for the scripted wresting match. The masked gladiators are wonderful performers. Lucha Libre started more than 100 years ago. Today thousands of people come out several times a week to enjoy the show and cheer on their favorite masked gladiator. You can attend this on your own, but we chose to go with our guide Alberto from Tours by Locals. I’m glad we did because he provided us wonderful insight, history and stories, as well as other details about beautiful Mexico City and the surrounding area.
Wow. This place was way better than I was expecting and we loved our guide Hilary from Tours by Locals. We spent the entire day exploring this ancient site located about 25 miles northeast of Ciudad de Mexico. Teotihuacan construction began in 100 BCE, long before the Aztecs. The actual name of the people who built it and lived here is unknown and there is no written record. But they left behind this vast site that today is still being discovered. The Aztecs settled here and ruled the region much later from about 1200 CE until the Spanish obliterated them in the 1500’s. Archeological research and discovery first began in 1904.
Today Teotihuacan is a UNESCO Heritage Site and the second most visited site in Mexico after Chichen Itza in the Yucatan. I highly recommend visiting this fantastic ancient cultural site when in Mexico.
The UNESCO heritage site south of the center of Mexico City is where the remains of the original lake and canals still exist. When the Spanish arrived they drained and filled in most of the lakes and canals that were built by the Aztecs. Today only the Xochimilco canals remain. Here the people have for generations used the rich fertile soil for agriculture. The floating gardens are the small islands in the lakes and canals that have been secured using willow trees. Today’s agriculture is primarily flowers, and the gorgeous blooms make their way to homes and businesses, restaurants and hotels all over the city. The tourist boats might seem a little kitschy but we did the boat ride early on a Monday and had the whole place to ourselves. We really enjoyed seeing this unique way of life with our guide Juan from Tours by Locals.
Coyoacan and UNAM
On the same day we visited Xochimilco (see above) with our most amazing guide Juan, we also visited the amazing murals at the Universidad National Autonoma de Mexico. UNAM is the largest university in Mexico and home to one of the most astonishing works of art I have ever seen. The tiled building that houses the central library is a UNESCO heritage site by architect and artist Juan O’Gorman from 1952. This incredible work of art tells the story of all of Mexico from ancient times to present day. It is truly a remarkable thing to see, and having the significance of the art explained to us in detail by Juan was absolutely fascinating. Learn more here.
Our next stop was the amazing Coyoacan neighborhood…a fantastic artist neighborhood and home to the Frida Kahlo Museum. But Coyoacan has more. A vibrant and wonderful place to explore, full of shops and history. We visited two significant churches; a former monastery Church of San Juan Bautista, and Capilla de la Conchita a remarkable chapel built by Cortez in 1525. We walked around the colorful parks and streets and had a delicious lunch. Juan took us to a teeny coffee shop that has been operating since 1953 and we also had the famous Coyoacan Churro. I really love this neighborhood.
We also made a brief stop in the high rent district San Angel – the Beverly Hills of Mexico City. Where the Spanish built the summer homes and still today the rich and fabulous live here. Cobblestone streets and fortress style mansions line the streets.
So Much to Love About Mexico City
Since we visited the Frido Kahlo Museum Casa Azul last time we did not do it again this year…but I highly recommend it.
We also highly recommend The Red Tree House hotel. This is the first time we have ever returned to stay a second time in a hotel because of an excellent first experience. This boutique style hotel is a favorite among Americans. Book well in advance if you can. Comfortable and in the great neighborhood of Roma Condesa and the service is fantastic. The Red Tree House offers a delicious breakfast and nightly wine and beer happy hour. Don’t miss it. Rooms range from low $100 USD and up.
Getting around is easy by Metro, Metro Bus, Uber, Didi or Taxi. Something for everyone. We took a taxi from the airport on arrival but then used Uber or the Metro the rest of our trip. Many locals speak English but if they don’t they are always willing to work to help you understand. If you stay in the main tourist areas and more populated neighborhoods and shopping areas you will always feel safe.
We will be back
I now consider Mexico City one of my favorite cities anywhere in the world. Yes I love Paris, Barcelona, Jerusalem, New York and more. But something about Ciudad de Mexico has really captured my heart. Thank you to the local people for helping me see there is so much to love about Mexico City. And there is still so much more to see…so Hasta Luego Ciudad de Mexico. Until we meet again – Muchas Gracias.
See last week’s post Eating My Way Through Mexico City
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NEXT WEEK our first of two posts about Papua New Guinea!!