Mexico City is certainly a place that is rich in history and there is always something to do whilst you’re there. I completely underestimated the size of the city and was blown away by how big it is and how modern – whilst walking around certain areas, I was often reminded of European cities like Paris, Barcelona or Copenhagen and never felt unsafe although I was lucky enough to get some tips in advance from some friends of where to not go and to always get ubers around! Read on for all of my top picks to do whilst in Mexico City.
Experience Day of the Dead
For Day of the Dead in Mexico, Oaxaca is generally considered the place to be but Mexico City is a great option too with plenty of ofrendas, La Catrina decor and the big parade in the centre of the city!
Day of the Dead takes place over 3 days with lots to do on all of these days and as you walk about the city, you will see the decorated skulls and marigold flowers out absolutely everywhere for the celebration. Throughout these 3 days, we watched the big parade from the Zocalo (but get there early as it gets super busy and it can be hard to see), marvelled at all the ofrendas in the Zocalo (open on the last day of the festival), ate some Pan de Muerto, toured a cemetery in San Andrés Mixquic (this get very busy and it was difficult to get an uber back!) and got our faces painted Day of the Dead style!
Get Arty in Coyoacán
Coyoacan is the bohemian hub of Mexico City and is actually where the famous Frida Khalo lived. This was actually one of my favourite places in all of Mexico City as you wander round the central park and cobblestone streets, grab a small bite to eat, look at the local art and wander around Mercado Coyoacán.
Just around the corner is Frida Khalo’s bright blue house, Casa Azul, which is open to visit although you need to make sure you book in advance! See where Frida lived, explore some of her history and enjoy the beautiful garden which is the central point of the house. And then, just a 10 minute walk away is the Leon Trotsky museum, again showing the well-preserved home of where Trotsky spent the final years of his life.
Somewhere a bit more central to Mexico City is La Ciudadela Market which is also great for any arty bits and bobs you want to pick up! There’s the classic sugar skulls but also really nice pottery pieces, coasters, shot glasses and much more.
Relax down the Xochimilco Canals
Xochimilco is famous for the colourful boats that float down the water system that was built by the Aztecs and you can take a relaxing cruise, a bit like in Venice, down the canals whilst food vendors float past. We got a taxi to this neighbourhood and had to do about a 10 minute walk to get there and I must say, it’s about the only place in Mexico City where I felt a little uneasy. I believe there are multiple spots where they do the Xochimilco boat rides and I think we just got dropped in a bit of a random one but the boat ride was great nonetheless!
Cheer On the Wrestlers at Lucha Libre
When in Mexico City, you have to experience the bizarre Mexican sport of professional wresting. I did this via an airbnb experience and although it seems like a strange thing to go and watch, it was actually extremely entertaining! A mix of acting and wresting (I would say it leans more to the acting side), the wrestlers dress up in extravagant costumes and perform a staged fight but it is also really funny. An experience that is hard to describe but totally worth your time!
Learn about the Aztecs at Teotihuacan
Another airbnb experience we did in Mexico City was going to Teotihuacan with our amazing guide Noa and this it’s something that everyone does whilst in the city. You walk through the ancient city of Teotihuacan, learning about the history of the Aztecs, the natural resources they used, such as looking at the sun through natural obsidian and what they believe life was like all those years ago. You walk down the Avenue of the Dead between the 2 main payraminds – the Pyramid of the Moon and the Pyramid of the Sun. A hugely popular thing to do here is take a hot air balloon ride over the pyramids for a full view, it’s not something we actually ended up doing but I know other people who have and said it was incredible.
As part of our tour, we got to stop off for a bite to eat in the local town and also try and make some chocolate ourselves from the roasted cacao bean and try some traditional aztec hot chocolate from a little cafe called Chocolateria Macando!
Wander the Parks of Mexico City
To the west of Mexico City, there is a huge park called Chapultepec which is lovely to walk around in the day time (I was warned not to walk here at night!). As you walk in, there are markets within the park and plenty of spots to sit and relax for a while out of the hot Mexican sun! The park has a zoo in it, botanical gardens and much more – you could almost spend an entire day here. Chapultepec also leads out to Paseo de la Reforma, the main street of Mexico City so you can walk through the park and then down out along here to the Angel of Independence.
However, this is also a much smaller park called Parque Mexico which I found to be much nicer! There are plenty of cute benches for a little rest and it’s a lovely place for a stroll. Although not as grand, there were more interesting plants and it just had a nicer vibe to it.
Eat, Eat, Eat!
And finally, when in Mexico, what is there to do but eat? We ate in so many great food places, ranging from your traditional Mexican to Thai food (there’s only so many tacos one person can eat in 2 weeks!) but all the food was delicious. My top spots are: Mercardo Roma for a selection of stalls in a cool market, El Moro for yummy churros with hot chocolate (chocolate caliente), Contramar if you love fish, and literally anything from any street food vendor! Be warned, I did get an upset stomach whist in Mexico so pack some medicine to help with this!
Where to Stay
Whilst in Mexico City, I stayed in Casa MX Alameda which had a great lively rooftop area but I can’t say that I would recommend; my bed wasn’t that comfy and I’m pretty sure it had bed bugs as I was bitten alive! Instead, I wish I stayed somewhere like Casa Pepe or Suites DF Hostel!