Ask 10 different people for their thoughts on Mexico City and you’ll get 10 different answers, so impossible is it to put together a cohesive, comprehensive overview of the massive megalopolis that is the Mexican capital. I didn’t take to it instantly. It’s big, it’s chaotic, and it can all be, honestly, a bit much. But it grows on you, getting under your skin until one day you look up and realize that, actually, it feels like home.
First-timers, with no connections in the city, typically beeline for the well-established, central neighborhoods of Roma and Condesa. It’s understandable. They’re overflowing with amenities and accommodation, and offer proximity to some of the best art galleries, restaurants, and bars in the capital. They’re fun and photogenic places to be, replete with Art Deco architecture and some of the city's best street art. I always send people there if it’s their inaugural visit, although I also gently suggest they venture into the nearby Juárez neighborhood for hot chocolate and tamales, too.
However, if there’s one thing I quickly learned in my time in Mexico City, it’s that there’s no way you can do everything in one
It’s the main attraction in the capital and while the Polanco, Roma, and Condesa neighborhoods are known for some of the best restaurants in the country, skip the "elevated" dining scene and instead eat street-side, perched on plastic stools. Tacos,
The Coyoacán neighborhood is an obvious bet, famed for being the one-time home of Frida Kahlo, and it was always my
I always like to namedrop the UNAM Campus to potential visitors too, because what better way to make myself seem cultured. It’s a place with a fascinating, revolutionary reputation (check out the Central Library and its Juan O’Gorman murals, and the sculpture park), as well as being something of a hotspot for urban murals. For photo-ops that go beyond Roma, this is the (quieter) place to be.
If you’d rather go somewhere with fewer tourists, then Santa María la Ribera should be next up. While there’s generally little appeal to the northern neighborhoods of Mexico City, this is the exception which proves the rule and became my go-to barrio when I fancied something different. (Full disclosure: that something different usually involved hanging out at the Biblioteca Vasconcelos, whose shelves – like a space-age Harry Potter set – seem to float in mid-air. My other go-to library is the little-visited, mural-
Give yourself an afternoon in the historic center. While it's rough and ready at times, you can’t leave without having stopped by the sinking cathedral and the cluster of impressive buildings which fan out from the central square, aka the zocalo. It also means you can mosey over to Parque Alameda, the most peaceful people-watching spot you’re going to get right in the heart of Latin America’s most densely-populated capital city. While away a few hours doing not very
There’s really nothing that compares to living in Mexico City.
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