Mexico City has been on my radar for a while now. Recently, I won a trip to Paradisus Los Cabos (in Cabo) as part of a social media contest (post about that coming later), but it was for 3 days and we wanted a longer summer vacation. “Where else in Mexico can we go for another leg of the trip?” we wondered, and that’s how our Mexico City trip was born.
Summing up this post in case you don’t have time to read: I definitely recommend visiting Mexico City. Okay, moving on to the details!
Note: I took almost every single one of these photos with my Sony a6000. I’ve sung this camera’s praises here, and really, really recommend this camera for trips! All other photos were taken with my iPhone 7+ which also takes stunning photos, especially in portrait mode.
Where We Stayed
We stayed at the Hyatt Regency in Polanco and loved it. The hotel is right in the Chapultepec Park where the National Museum of Anthropology and Castillo de Chapultepec are located! Their breakfast buffet was extraordinary (they had a make-your-own chilaquiles bar… sold.) and their service was really great. We would definitely stay there again!
Museo Estudio Diego Rivera y Frida Kahlo (Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera’s house)
This was the absolute best way to start our trip. Visiting Frida Kahlo’s house was like Disneyland for artists. It’s exactly what you’d imagine it to be: colorful and fascinating. We loved learning about her life – she truly was an incredible woman! Also, her ashes are in an urn in her house still. Kind of creepy but cool? Cool.
This kitchen!! Look carefully at the tiling.
All her paints are exactly as she left them before she died.
Floating Gardens of Xochimilco
We loved this part of the trip. Reviews online are mixed, but Idan and I truly enjoyed it. Our tour (this was the same day as the Frida Kahlo visit) took us to Xochimilco, which is known for its floating gardens (the boats you see here).
While on the boat, a boat with a Mariachi band came and tied up next to us, and then they came onto our boat and played for us! It was around 180 pesos per song, and everyone on the boat pitched in. They even took requests!
THEN, this woman who has a “restaurant” on her boat came and served us all lunch! The food was absolutely delicious. It was perfect.
Diego Rivera mural at the National University of Mexico
On the last part of our Frida Kahlo – Xochimilco tour day, we stopped by the National University of Mexico. It’s a gorgeous campus and we loved seeing the Diego Rivera mural. One thing that we found so interesting about the campus was that there were so many dogs there! It was like one giant dog park that everyone in Mexico City was at – and SOOO many breeds were represented! We were seriously fascinated by this (and also tried to pet every dog we could).
This was suuuuch a fun day. We took a tour with a company from Viator, and they picked us up in the city and drove us out to the pyramids. Looking at reviews of the tour company now, I’m actually pretty surprised at some of the negatives – we had a really good time. So I guess use whatever tour company you want, but you should definitely go to the pyramids no matter what!
We were really glad we wore workout clothes – these things are HUGE and we climbed multiple pyramids. Also, two people in our group fell so you definitely have to watch your step.
After the tour, they took us to a local market where we learned about mezcal and tequila and had a tasting! I learned that I do not like mezcal. They also taught us about Obsidian, a rock that the local culture was known for exporting. It wasn’t really my style but I did appreciate the art of how they sculpt the rock!
Then they took us to a cute little restaurant where they had a Mariachi band and a buffet… two things I am known for enjoying. The food wasn’t stellar but after a full morning of hiking pyramids, food just sounded really good. Plus look at the tables!
Palacio de Bellas Artes (Palace of the Fine Arts)
How beautiful is this building?! That’s Mexico City’s Palace of the Fine Arts. I have about 500 more photos of this on my computer but here are the best ones.
TIP: There’s a Sears across the street from the palace that has a coffee shop on one of their top floors – visit there for the best view! You’ll have to buy a coffee but it’s totally worth it. Plus, the coffee is pretty good there!
With my Sony a6000! I can’t recommend this camera enough.
On our last night here, we ended up seeing the Ballet Folklorico de Mexico at the Palace. This is not your typical ballet – it’s a mix of traditional Mexican dances! It was completely mesmerizing and beautiful and I absolutely recommend going to see this show. We sat in the nosebleeds (like, the very top row. There were no rows behind us) and it was still amazing! I think tickets ended up being like $20 each in USD.
I wore this fun yellow dress and brought this Packed Party zip pouch along with me – it was the perfect little clutch for the night!
Free Walking Tour with Estación Mexico
One cool thing we did was a free walking tour! We met in the morning at the Zocalo (City Center) and walked allllll around. Our tour guide was super friendly and knowledgeable and we just loved her! You obviously have to tip at the end (it’s a “free” tour) but Idan and I thought it was worth every peso. ;) You can book your tour here!
This is the city center where they have a model of the Pyramids! They don’t look so daunting when they’re in model form.
I just loved all the tile detailing all over the city.
We ran into a protest! I don’t know what they were protesting, though, ha.
This is their POST OFFICE.
Have you ever seen a post office that is this pretty?! Nope, me neither.
This shot ^ was Idan’s idea. Gotta give credit where credit is due!
Chinatown in Mexico City! Who knew?
Look at these cakes (!!!)!
There was color and texture everywhere we turned.
Casa de los Azulejos (House of Tiles)
Of COURSE I loved this building. It’s covered in gorgeous tile (the pics might not do it justice) and is just the prettiest thing I’ve ever seen. It’s a 2 minute walk from the Palace of the Fine Arts!
I got this shot with my Sony a6000 by lowering the shutter speed and increasing the f-stop. I love that it can be shot with automatic or manual mode so I can play around with the settings!
Lucha Libre Fight
One of the most entertaining things we did was go to a Lucha Libre fight. Since the tickets were relatively hard to buy online, we decided to get adventurous and walk to the stadium ourselves to get our tickets.
First of all, the walk there is super seedy. There was a point where Idan whispered to me to put my camera away… so there’s that. I would probably take a cab there if I had to do it again! When we got there, we saw this area to buy tickets and assumed noone was home. Wouldn’t you?
But after speaking with some other Americans, we found out that there was a person behind the counter, and it’s just a one-way mirror, ha! After the trek there and the language barrier to buy tickets, we were pretty proud of ourselves once we had tickets in hand.
The show itself was awesome. It was everything I expected it to be – and it wasn’t overly touristy either! There were soooo many Mexican families there – their kids could not get enough. Once I got past the misogyny of the half-naked girls introducing the fighters (is it actually possible to get past that? I hate it. That’s a conversation for another time, though. #feminist), the show was really funny and entertaining. I definitely recommend seeing this show!
We loved visiting the Market de Ciudadela. It’s sensory overload in the best possible way. We brought plenty of cash and I ended up taking home some fun textiles for my bedroom!
Secretaria de Educacion Publica (Secratary of Public Education Building)
We loved visiting this special building. It’s where the Secretary of Public Education office is, and it houses some really amazing murals by Diego Rivera. Besides being know as Frida Kahlo’s husband, Diego Rivera was a known communist and amazing artist, and all of his murals have a lot of meaning. If you visit here, I would recommend googling all the murals in advance to see what they mean – we found ourselves looking them up a lot while we were there and we loved learning their history!
I want to live in this courtyard.
This 18th-century palace served as the home of the Mexican President until 1939 and now houses the famous Museo Nacional de Historia and it. is. stunning.
National Museum of Anthropology (Museo Nacional de Antropologia)
This museum is SO COOL. You can see so many historical artifacts it’ll make your head spin! And their exhibit on evolution is really interesting. You could spend hours in this museum so wear your walking shoes! Admission is 57 pesos per adult.
Where to Eat: Azul Historico
This was probably my favorite meal we had on the trip. Our friends got us reservations at this place and we were so thankful! I ordered chilaquiles rojas and ate it in approximately 5 minutes. The whole restaurant was so beautifully decorated and we loved the ambiance.
Where to Eat: Churreria el Moro
We visited this delicious Churro place a few times while in Mexico City. It’s THAT good. But we did have to wait a decent amount of time in line – worth it!
This place had the coolest atmosphere – it was like a farmer’s market in that it had many different food stations with every cuisine you could think of. Admittedly, the meal we had was not good — we ordered tacos and guac, thinking that local flavor would be best! But then we looked around and all the locals were eating cuisines from other cultures – Japanese, Italian, and even American burgers, ha! So if you go here I would recommend NOT ordering traditional Mexican food and following whatever the locals are doing!
For Next Time:
There were a few things we didn’t get to do that are definitely on my list for next time (and there will be a next time)… touring the Luis Barragán houses, doing a street food walking tour, and taking a cooking class with Casa Jacaranda. I also think that next time I’d like to try staying in a different neighborhood, like Roma or Condesa. Every neighborhood is different and has its own individual feel.
Some Tips For Visiting Mexico City:
- Bring lots of loose change in pesos for public bathrooms. All of the public restrooms in Mexico City charge you a few pesos to use them. Also, some charge extra for toilet paper so bring some tissues with you!
- Brush up on your Spanish and/or download Google Translate. Surprisingly, very few people we encountered spoke any English. The language barrier was difficult at times, but not insurmountable.
- Don’t drink the water! I don’t need to tell you why. Also, keep a bottle of water in the bathroom for brushing your teeth! And don’t eat fresh fruit/veggies.
- Take Ubers instead of taxis and avoid rush hour at all costs. We took like 3 taxis the whole time we were there and had terrible experiences. Uber was really great there, though! If you haven’t used Uber before, click here for a free ride!
- Have your hotel concierge book your restaurant reservations as many people don’t speak English and you’ll have trouble on your own.
- Book the most popular restaurants months in advance – they didn’t have any availability at some of the restaurants we wanted to go to (ex: Pujol).
- Call your cell phone provider and ask if they provide coverage in Mexico – mine did!
I’m by no means an expert, but we felt safe in Mexico City almost the entire time we were there. The only time we were a little worried was while walking to the Lucha Libre stadium – and even that wasn’t that bad. If you’re street smart, you’ll be fine. I’ve felt more worried in Chicago before than I did in Mexico City! And we were all saying on the trip that we felt safer there than we would in Europe right now. So there’s that.
We visited in early July and it was beautiful in the mornings (70 and sunny) and super rainy/drizzly/cold in the evenings. It rained every day from 5-7pm pretty much on the dot. I was glad that we packed light jackets! But we did have to run to a store for umbrellas at one point.
Overall, I highly recommend visiting Mexico City. It’s such a great, colorful city – very metropolitan but also full of fascinating history. It’s also relatively inexpensive and can definitely be done on the cheap! I will absolutely be visiting again.
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Phoenix Travel Guide
Would you visit Mexico City? Do you have questions? Comment below!
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