Mexico City travel guide: Alternative sights to see
Mexico City – Ciudad de México – is alive with the sounds of street vendors and the smell of corn in the air. Reggaeton beats spill from clubs and the atmosphere is incredible. Everything in Mexico City is inexpensive meaning it’s easy to get around, and below is my Mexico City travel guide for travelers who are looking for something a bit different.
What to see in Mexico City
First on the list is the pyramids at Teotihuacán. Here you can explore the old city (who’s founding is still shrouded in mystery) and climb the Pyramids of the Sun and Moon. The views of the surrounding countryside are fabulous, and you can gaze down on the Avenue of the Dead where some Aztec art still survives.
From Terminal de Autobuses del Poniente, the pyramids are about an hour away and a round trip costs 104 pesos (about $6). Try tequila brewed from agave, or mezcal with a worm in the bottle (interesting flavour). The Aztecs, who gave Teotihuacán its current name, used to look through disks of obsidian at the sun during special times of the year, and here you have an opportunity to do so. Admission to Teotihuacán is 70 pesos (about $4).
The Centro Historico (Historic Centre) of Mexico City is wonderful. The many stores and vendors have something for everyone and the street food is amazing! The architecture surrounding the Catedral Metropolitana de México will leave you speechless, and the many side streets host a variety of thrilling experiences with numerous markets and stalls.
From the Centro Historico, take two metros out to Chapultepec Park. With two lakes, the park is beautiful for an afternoon walk. The main trails are lined with stalls and the many shaded areas offer perfect spots to chill out. For 70 pesos, you can climb to the top of the castle for a fantastic overview of the city.
Within walking distance of the park is the Roma Norte district. Known for a vibrant social scene, the street art that covers the walls is beautiful. Wandering around brings fantastic surprises ranging from commissioned pieces to more traditional graffiti and tags. The neighbourhood itself is charming and feels like a break from the hectic Centro Historico. The lively atmosphere and the many bars, cafes and places to eat will leave you smitten!
TRAVELING THROUGH MEXICO? CHECK OUT MORE JUSTFINCH GUIDES
What to eat in Mexico City
As noted, street vendors sell everything ranging from watermelon covered in chili to more familiar tacos. A popular dish is chile relleno – a chili pepper stuffed with cheese and fried in batter – which is absolutely amazing! Why not head to Pasteleria Madrid for enchiladas or pastries? Or, close by, the larger Mercado Abelardo L Rodríguez has produce and meals for sale. When you’re hungry, join the locals and sit in front of the stall to eat your chosen meal.
Next to Palacio de Bellas Artes is a collection of stalls where you can try chapulines, a Mexican delicacy. Surprisingly tasty, chapulines are essentially grasshoppers. Also available at the market is food such as coconut drinks, sorbets and other insects to try!
For something a bit less adventurous, many vendors sell tortas, a tasty Mexican sandwich. Also, try maiz azul, a blue corn tortilla with blue corn as a topping. Just don’t forget to cover it in chili and salsa!
The city’s nightlife
The nightlife in Mexico City is fantastic! Hostel Mundo Joven Catedral, located in the Centro Historico, pumps out funky house tunes Friday and Saturday nights until 2am. The view from the rooftop Terraza (entrance 50 pesos, about $2.70) will leave you breathless. Grab a drink, vibe with the music and stare out across the old town!
For an alternative vibe, Pizza del Perro Negro is nice to sit down and relax in, though you do have to order food (a side dish will suffice). I highly recommend their pizzas! When we visited, punk / rock music was blaring as people enjoyed the indoor skating bowl. When you’re waiting for your food to arrive, check out the old-school arcade games built into drum vats for some fun. The atmosphere is amazing and it is for anyone who wants something a bit different!
During weekend nights, Madero Street is alive with clubs blaring reggaeton and house music in the heart of the Centro Historico. While there are many clubs, during week nights it gets very quiet.
Pros and cons of visiting Mexico City
Mexico City is wonderful and the people are very friendly. Getting around is easy and transport, like everything else in the city, is inexpensive. If you smoke marijuana it is never too far away, but you buy it at your own risk.
However, basic Spanish is almost a must as few people are fluent in English. Watch out for cars as they fly down streets at high speeds. I was advised never to drink tap water but bottled water is so inexpensive that it is hardly a problem.
Hostels start from about $10 a night for a central location. The metro is frequent, fast and inexpensive (a single ride is 5 pesos, exchange included). Taxis are also everywhere.
As Spanish is needed, a phrase to get you by is “Mi español es mierda” (my Spanish is shit)!
Thinking of heading out on the road? Check out my top 5 books to inspire your wanderlust!