Mexico

Mexico City (Distrito Federal, Ciudad de México)

Mexico City, the former Aztec capital Tenochtitlán, is the capital of Mexico and home of some of its best sites.

Sights

  • Centro Histórico (Zócalo, or Plaza de la Constitución, the main square features the ruined Aztec Templo Mayor, Catedral Metropolitana, Palacio Nacional, Museum of Gatronomy...also a huge Mexican flag is raised and lowered each day at 6 AM and 6 PM...a good place to watch is from rooftop terraces/restaurants of the surrounding hotels)

  • Alameda Central (west of Zócalo, features Palacio de Bellas Artes [an art museum])

  • Xochimilco "Floating Gardens" (canals), about 30 min S ...also Frida Kahlo & Diego Rivera paintings

    • take Metro (L2) to the end of the line at Tasqueña, then transfer to the Xochimilco Light Rail Tram (Tren Ligero) ...total trip is maybe 1.5 hours

    • take trajinera (boat); boatman costs ~$300MX

    • chinampas = rafts with flower gardens

    • Mariachi bands for ~$70MX/song Cielito Lindo, Llorar, Dos Arbolitos

  • Chapultepec: has Museo Nacional de Antropología e Historia (castle and park are also nice) [Google office is N of Chapultepec]

  • Casa Azúl - Frida Kahlo's "blue house" in Coyoacán [~1 hr on L2 (General Anaya) or L3 (Coyoacán) metro]

  • Markets

    • Mercado de La Ciudadela - handcrafts, on Calle Balderas, near Ciudadela park (where people dance every afternoon)

    • Mercado de San Juan - foodstuffs, best before 10, ~6 am to ~4 pm, Ernesto Pugibet 21

    • La Merced

    • San Cosme - food

    • San Camilito - food

  • Coyoacán and San Angel

  • Museo Soumaya - Rodin, Dalí, etc. funded by magnate Carlos Slim

  • Swanky neighborhoods: Paseo de la Refoma, Roma, Condesa (the last 2 are along Avenida Michoacán)

  • ruins of Aztec temple of Ehécatl are in Pino Suarez metro station

  • Day Trips

    • Teotihuacán - day trip to "Pyramid of the Sun" (~1 hour drive NE)

    • Basilica de Guadalupe ("Villa Guadalupe") - on the northern side of the city, 20-30 min from the center, is the church housing the icon of Our Lady of Guadalupe, a pilgrimage site.

  • Music/Events

    • Castillo de Chapultepec (free concerts on Sun at noon?)

    • Plaza de Garibaldi - mariachi music?

    • Ballet Folklórico

    • Feast of San Antonio Abad - January 17th (blessing of animals in the churches, etc.)

Restaurants/Eating

  • Azul Condesa - Nuevo León 68, 5286-6380, 5286-6268, M-Sat 1 PM - 1:30 AM, Sun 1 PM - 6 PM, www.azulcondesa.com one of the best restaurants in Mexico; their mole is to die for

  • La Opera - classic cafe/bar

  • Polanco

    • Villa María - rec'd by Googlers

  • Cooking Classes

    • Patricia Quintana (Paseo de la Reforma) reviewed here and here

    • Ruth Alegria in Condechi --> Slow Food in Condesa/Roma (rec'd by Cristina Potters of "Mexico Cooks!", patalarga@baddog.com, and by Lesly Téllez of www.themijachronicles.com and Eat Mexico culinary tours [review]) www.ruthincondechi.com

      • Says that Mexico Soul & Essence running classes in Colonia Condesa; email ruthalegria@aol.com

    • Jonas (from Belgium) runs a tour: www.toursbylocals.com/blog/entry-Mexico-City-Cooking-Class

    • Enrique Olvera at Pujol (probably in Spanish)

    • Vicky Cowal VickyCowal@prodigy.net.mx

    • in Spanish: http://www.fundacionherdez.com.mx/

    • El Tajin in Coyoacan (Alicia DeAngeli)

    • Azul y Oro at UNAM (Ricardo Muñoz)

    • Tours by local Slow Food??

    • NY Times ideas in Oaxaca and Puebla: http://intransit.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/10/22/qa-cooking-classes-in-mexico/ (e.g. in Oaxaca and Veracruz: http://www.nancyzaslavsky.com/tours.html)

    • Mexican Home Cooking School - in Tlaxcala

Sources:

Hotels

Centro Histórico places near the Zócalo:

  • Airbnb ??

  • More Expensive

    • Holiday Inn Zócalo (Frommer's calls it "one of the city's most charming hotels" but Jim Johnston says "has everything you expect (or fear) from Holiday Inns" despite great view from rooftop terrace), corridors a bit cramped but great location, rec'd by Zean Deane (who says the "suites are a bargain" with jacuzzis), Moon, Lonely Planet ("the least pretentious" of the top-tier Zócalo hotels),Frommer's, Fodors, and Time Out, free WiFi, www.hinnzocalo.com

    • Best Western Hotel Majestic, colonial lobby right on Zócalo, rooms facing plaza can be noisy, nice rooftop terrace, courtyard, bathtubs, no internet (?) www.hotelmajestic.com.mx, rec'd by Zain Deane, Jim Johnston, Moon, Time Out, National Geographic, Rough Guide, Fodors, Frommer's (which calls it "A Mexico City institution that visitors should experience at least once")

    • NH Centro Historico, sleek/new (minimalist Asian-themed), 1 block from Zócalo, www.nh-hotels.com, rec'd by Jim Johnston, Zain Deane ("one of my favorites places to stay in the city center'), Lonely Planet, National Geographic

    • Sheraton Centro Histórico --> now Hilton Mexico City Reforma - modern, glamorous, lots of amenities, off Alameda Central, rec'd by Jim Johnston, Zain Deane, Frommer's, Fodors, and Time Out; fee for internet, popular with business travelers (all rooms with kitchenette, work desk, gym/meeting space on site, etc.), "Zen-like", Time Out also recommends their restaurant for breakfast/lunch (El Cardenal)

    • Gran Hotel de la Ciudad de Mexico former 19th-century department store, nice view form rooftop terrace, historic building, French colonial style, Uncle Bill stayed there, rec'd by Jim Johnston, Time Out, Rough Guide, Fodors, Lonely Planet lauds the "belel époque" grandeur of the rooms, www.granhotelciudaddemexico.com ...worth a trip to see the lobby/elevators/terrace even if you're not staying there

  • Midrange

    • Hotel Juárez, rec'd by Jim Johnston

    • Hotel Rioja, rec'd by Jim Johnston

    • Hotel Washington, rec'd by Jim Johnston

    • Hotel Gillow, www.hotelgillow.com (6th floor has terrace rooms), same owner as Hotel Catedral, rec'd by Jim Johnston, Moon, Time Out, Rough Guide (especially rec'd), and Zean Deane (who says "suites are a great value" with jacuzzis, Mexico's 2nd-oldest hotel, free WiFi

    • Hotel Catedral, www.hotelcatedral.com (7th floor shared terrace, upper floor rooms have view of cathedral), rec'd by Jim Johnston, Moon (who name it their "best mid-range" hotel in the city), Time Out ("retro chic" and "good value"), Zain Deane (notes purified drinking water taps in each room, free local calls/internet), Frommer's, Rough Guide, Fodors

    • Tulip Inn, 2 blocks from Zócalo, free wifi, 1930's-esque, www.tulipinnritzmexico.com, rec'd by Jim Johnston, Moon, Time Out

    • Fiesta Inn - next to Sheraton, good value (free wireless), rec'd by Zain Deane, Moon

    • Hotel de Cortés - colonial hotel rec'd by Time Out

  • Inexpensive Options (also see Let's Go listings)

    • Hostal Moneda - a block from the Zócalo, rec'd by Zain Deane, Moon (who calls it the "best budget" lodging in town)...also check out Hostal Amigo, same owners

    • Hostal Catedral (Mundo Joven) - rec'd by Zain Deane, Time Out, National Geographic, Fodors, Moon (who says it's "More upscale than Moneda"), www.hostelcatedral.com.mx

    • Hotel Isabel - rec'd by Time Out, Moon

    • Mexico City Hostel - relatively new hostel (electronic key cards), dorms or private rooms, rec'd by Zain Deane, Moon

    • Hostal Virreyes - Time Out calls it "flawed yet funky" with 1960's decor, rec'd by Lonely Planet, free WiFi

    • Hotel Buenos Aires - Colonial off Cinque de Mayo, rec'd by Moon

    • Hotel Zamora - Moon says it is a "stalwart among the backpacker crowd"

  • Red Tree House [in Condesa]

Other notes

  • Tips: 5-15 pesos/bag, 10-15% waiters, not expected for taxis

  • Don't drink tap water; bring Pepto Bismol & Imodium just in case

  • Avoid jewelry/displays of wealth in Mexico City; change/get money before existing Customs at the airport

  • Use legitimate (sitio) taxis ("taxis autorizados"), not green VW / libre ones

  • Use a backpack (mochila), so it's clear you're not a rich target (for theft/kidnapping)

Websites

Guidebooks

Other Places in Mexico:

  • [other places in Central Mexico: Tlaxcala, Puebla, Cholula, Xalapa, Veracruz]

  • Baja (Los Cabos/Cabo San Lucas, La Paz, etc.)

  • Yucatán (Maya, Cancún/Isla Mujeres/Tulum/Playa de Carmen, SCUBA Diving, Ek Balam pyramid)

  • Jalisco (Guadelajara, home of Mariachi, Puerto Vallarta, Costa Alegre)

  • Guerrero has Acapulco and Ixtapa (near Shawshank Redemption's Zihuatenejo)

  • NE (Guadalupe, Monterrey)

  • West (Sinoloa, Copper Canyon)

  • Oaxaca - see separate page