Five Reasons to Visit Mexico City
The first time I landed in Mexico City, I really didn’t know what to expect. I accepted a position to work in one of the biggest cities in the world and was excited for my future. However, when friends and family learned about my assignment, everyone warned, “It’s not safe there.”
Certainly a city of twenty million is not without problems or issues, but also think about what twenty million people can create. And in one of the oldest continuously populated places in all of the Americas people have created something beautiful. Yes, very beautiful. But what about the danger? Trust me, the real danger of Mexico City is falling in love with the city. And I did. So if you enjoy city travel, definitely put Mexico City on your list of destinations. And since it is so big, with so much to do, let me start you off with five places to visit on your first or next trip.
Mexico City one of the world’s largest cities also has one of the world’s largest squares. Built on the site of the original Aztec Empire capital, the Spanish Conquistadors built the main plaza. It’s a huge square enclosed by colonial buildings with a ring of a multiple lane road around the plaza. But one visitors cross to the pedestrian only center you stand in the heart of the city and the country.
Inside you will always stumble on something unique or interesting. Whether it is a planned festival, a Mayan cleansing ceremony or a chance to view the moon through a telescope at night for a few pesos, the Zocalo is Mexico.
In the Zocalo you will find a Cathedral, Templo Mayor archaeological site (Aztecs), and the National Palace. On a walk through the palace you can view many of the historical and majestic murals by the famous artist Diego Rivera. Impressive work.
An Afternoon in Coyoacan
Mexico City is made up of multiple neighborhoods that come together to create one massive city. Traffic remains a huge issue both in the residential and commercial areas but one oasis in the city is the neighborhood or “barrio” Coyoacan. It is the perfect place to spend a Saturday afternoon.
On the weekends an artisan market fills the center square and the surrounding cafes fill with visitors stopping for a coffee or a meal to catch up with family and friends. The cobblestone paths create a vibe of a simpler time and a stroll can be romantic. I visited my first weekend in the city and return often.
A night in Condesa
An emerging middle class is one of the best feel good stories about Mexico City. Professionals that work and live in the city often head to the trendy neighborhoods for a night out. Sure Mexico City has clubs, but in neighborhoods such as Condesa or Roma people come to enjoy the culture, cuisine and cervezas (or Tequila) in the city’s many cafes, restaurants, and bars. Walking these streets is where I learned so much about today’s Mexico.
After a night out, or even for dinner visitors can find many spots to stop for real tacos. For me there was no better spot for a few tacos el pastor then the taqueria El Califa in Condesa. I never visited Mexico City without enjoying a meal there and never will.
Teotihuacan – Mexico’s Pyramids Before the Aztecs ruled the region, a prosperous civilization flourished just outside what is present day Mexico City. The famous Pyramids of the Sun and Moon at Teotihuacan make for a perfect day trip out of the city.
One of the true highlights of a visit is the chance to climb to the top of both Pyramids. Although the climb is longer and more challenging to reach the top of the Pyramid of the Sun, it is the Pyramid of the Moon that provides the best views of the entire archaeological site. The origin and civilization who called this home is often debated, but what isn’t debated is how impressive the ruins are to visit.
The National Museums
A museum in Mexico? Yes, the Museum of Anthropology, (museo Nacional de Antropolgia) is arguably the best collection of pre-Columbian artifacts in the entire world. So if the visit to Teotihuacan wasn’t enough, stop here and you will leave impressed, as the collection will even overload a scholar.
The museum would be my top choice and recommendation, but visits to the National History Museum in Chapultepec Castle (stunning views), The Museum of Modern Art, or the Frida Kahlo Museum are also perfect for a rainy day.
As I mentioned other museums, there are also other must see and do places and activities. in Mexico City. The mariachi in Garibaldi, the canals of Xochimilco, Sunday in Chapultepec Park, a Bike ride on the Paseo la Reforma and a climb of the Angel of Independence are a few. And yes, lists can continue, but the important thing is to learn Mexico City will surprise you and these five places will start to give you a flavor and taste of the city I love. Trust me you will want another.
But if you are still wondering how to respond about safety, let me quote my favorite words by Aldous Huxley, “To travel is to discover that everyone is wrong about other countries.” And when you want to give Mexico City a chance you will agree.