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5 Things You Didn’t Know About Mexico City Travel

5 Things You Didn't Know about Mexico City travel

 

When I mention to someone that I’m currently living in Mexico City, I get two very distinct reactions. Sometimes my statement is met with enthusiasm (usually from someone who has already done some Mexico City travel), but more often it’s met with a pause and some confusion.

 

Many Americans, Canadians, and even Europeans are very misinformed about this part of the world, Mexico City in particular. Yes, this city had its issues in the past, but it has emerged as a bustling cultural center and tourist destination.

 

mexico city travel coyoacan building

 

I am super passionate about helping others see the value in visiting this part of the world. So let’s get started with Mexico City travel! Do you know these 5 things about the city?

 

frida mural mexico city travel

 

Mexico City Gets Chilly, Especially at Night

 

I think this might be the biggest misconception of all. Everyone seems to assume that since you’re in Mexico, the weather will be super hot. But the geography is really varied in this giant country, and the biggest factor in weather variation is the elevation.


Mexico City is quite high in elevation - 7,382 feet (or 2250 meters). This keeps the city very temperate. During the day, if the sun is out, it can be quite warm - but never really uncomfortable. In the evening, it can be downright cold. And in the winter months, you will most likely want a jacket with you at all times.

 

In the summer months, it often rains each day, usually in the evening/night. So be sure to have some extra layers and a rain jacket during that time, too.
So don’t assume it’ll be hot during your Mexico City travel days! Be sure to pack lots of layers for the varied weather.

 

Mexico City is Chalk Full of Great Art, Hip Coffee Shops, and Cool Boutiques

mercado roma mexico city travel

roma norte mexico city

 

This idea that hip and modern culture only exists in New York, LA or Europe pisses me off. There are cool, interesting, creative people all over the world, including Latin America.

Mexico City is the epicenter for cool in Mexico. On any given day you can find art gallery openings, hip coffee shops, creative artisanal cocktails, boutiques with cutting edge fashion, and restaurants with innovative food. I am constantly inspired by all of the cool and interesting places I find when I’m here.

 

cocktail roma mexico city travel
Enjoying a delicious artisanal cocktail at La Romita Comedor in Roma.

 

la romita comedor roma mexico city
The vibey interior of La Romita Comedor

 

There are a few neighborhoods that have a higher concentration of all that is hip. The trendiest neighborhood right now is Roma - with cool bars, restaurants, and boutiques popping up everywhere. You can also find cool places in Condesa, Coyoacan, the Centro, and sprinkled through other neighborhoods.

 

la lagunilla market mexico city travel
My favorite weekend market in Mexico City - La Lagunilla, full of antique goods and cool vintage clothing.

 

Mexico City is About As Safe as Any Major US City

(Especially if You Use Common Sense & Stick to Safe Neighborhoods)

 

Americans have been lead to believe that Mexico City is a constant crime scene. Yes, it was a very dangerous place in the past, but a lot has changed.

 

Consider that this is a GIANT city of 21.2 million people - one of the biggest cities in the world. With that many people, there will surely be crime. But just like any city, safety varies greatly based on neighborhoods and regions.

 

Do your research on neighborhoods before your Mexico City travel. I’ve never had any problems or felt unsafe in Anzures, Polanco, Cuauhtemoc, Roma, Condesa, Narvarte, Coyoacan or San Angel. I’ve also never had any problems in the Centro, but I know it can get a bit sketchy at night.

 

Use good common sense like you would in any big city - don’t walk around alone at night. Don’t hail taxis off the street - instead take Ubers. Don’t flash your iPhone or money around. Be aware of your surroundings. Also, be respectful of the local culture - it’s not normal for women to wear mini-skirts or shorts here, so avoid that. Don’t walk on especially dark streets - stick to busy main streets at night. Just be smart, and you should be fine.

 

The Food Scene in Mexico City is Off the Charts

 

food culture mexico city travel
Tacos al pastor - one of Mexico City's specialties.

 

If you haven’t heard, Mexico City has some of the best food in the world. Their street food culture is especially strong and delicious.

 

The thing about food in Mexico, is that it’s sacred. It doesn’t matter how much money you have or how busy you are, locals always make time for fresh, well-made food. You will never find a food stand or restaurant skimping on high quality ingredients or important steps in preparation.

 

All this adds up to really special meals. We tend to eat most of our meals out at street food stands, and each one is unique and delicious. Of the three months total we’ve spent in Mexico City, I can’t think of any meal we had that wasn’t at least good/bordering on great.

 

pozole mexico city travel
Pozole - a traditional & hearty Mexican soup. Add lime, avocado, tostadas, and picante to the bowl.

 

ceviche tostada mexico city travel
A fresh ceviche tostada from a street stand in El Centro.

 

tlacoyo mexico city travel food
Tlacoyos are one of my favorite Mexico City specialty - an oblong fresh tortilla stuffed with beans or soft cheese and topped with nopales (cactus), crumbled cheese, onion and cilantro.

 

As always, my best advice for eating out anywhere, is to look for a stand or restaurant that is crowded. Locals know best! And because of the high turnover, the food will be fresh and safe to eat. For other tips on how to find the best street food in Latin America, check out this post.

 

Mexico City is a Pretty City

 

mexico city travel el centro
A beautiful tiled wall in the Centro of Mexico City.

 

I think many Americans picture Mexico City as a dirty, smoggy, grey city. Yes, there are smog issues here because of the concentration of people and the surrounding mountains, but this is a city full of vibrant colorful buildings, pretty architecture, and an abundance of trees, tropical flowers, and green spaces.

 

One of my favorite activities while doing some Mexico City travel is simply wandering the streets and photoing the picturesque buildings and street corners I find. I constantly stumble onto intricate doors, colorful walls, street art, and papel picado strung across the street..

 

san angel street art mexico city
Vibrant street art in the San Angel neighborhood of Mexico City.

 

street corner mexico city travel

 

decorations street mexico city
Irridescent decorations strung across the streets in Coyoacan.

 

colorful streets of coyoacan
A beautiful random alley in the colorful neighborhood of Coyoacan.

 

Mexico City also loves its parks, so there are several in every neighborhood. And these parks are actively used - you can find workers enjoying their lunch, children playing, and people walking their dogs. The biggest park in Mexico City is Bosque de Chapultepec and is one of the biggest parks in the Western Hemisphere - bigger than NYC’s Central Park! It contains lakes, fountains, a picturesque castle, and a couple of the city’s best museums.

 

There are pretty things to see all over the city, but there are a couple neighborhoods that are exceptionally beautiful.

 

Head to Coyoacan and San Angel for colorful, well-manicured buildings and streets.

 

san angel mexico city travel
A pretty building facade in San Angel.

 

shrine san angel mexico city
A shrine on a resident's home front in San Angel.

 

Head to Roma for shabby chic buildings mixed with hip new shops and architecture

 

street art roma mexico city travel
Colorful and fun street art in Roma.

 

Head to the Centro for Spanish colonial architecture and European influences.

 

bellas artes mexico city travel
The beautiful Bellas Artes building and museum in el Centro.

 

palacio postal mexico city travel
The lavish Italian influenced postal office in el Centro.

 

palacio postal mexico city
The beautiful, ornate steps at the Palacio Postal.

 

Head to San Rafael and Santa Maria la Ribera for classic Art Deco buildings.

 

cine opera san rafael mexico city
Art deco theater in San Rafael.

 

Head to Condesa or Polanco for upscale buildings and architecture

 

doorway condesa mexico city travel

 

 

Don’t let misconceptions stop you from traveling in Latin America. Mexico City, in particular, is a welcoming city full of pretty corners, friendly locals, and incredible food and culture. If you’re adventurous, love culture, and have an appreciation for great food, plan for some Mexico City travel this year!

 

Did you know these things about Mexico City? Have any other surprising things to add? Drop them in the comments below!

 

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5 Things You Didn't Know about Mexico City travel
5 Things You Didn't Know about Mexico City travel

24 Responses

  1. Cat
    | Reply

    You have changed my ideas on Mexico City! Like you said, it is often thought as a dangerous city to visit so people like me are scared to visit there. I’m glad a lot has changed! I am definitely interested in trying out all the hip cafes and yummy street food when I make my way there!

    • Susan Ripley
      | Reply

      Glad to hear it! It is a very cool place with so much to do and eat. Definitely worth a trip! 🙂

  2. Ed
    | Reply

    Mexico City seems like such a hip and beautiful place to visit. I’m happy to see you sharing the good side of the incredible city. That street food alone makes me want to visit!! 😀

    • Susan Ripley
      | Reply

      Yes, the food is definitely enough of a reason to make the trip! 🙂

  3. Allison Wong
    | Reply

    I would go crazy in Mexico city because I’m such a foodie and I love Mexican food. It’s good to know that it has so many different pretty sides too!

    • Susan Ripley
      | Reply

      It’s definitely true, the food is such an amazing part about traveling in Mexico! There are lots of other great things to do here as well, including enjoying the pretty buildings and sites. 🙂

  4. Julie
    | Reply

    You definitely make me want to visit Mexico City! It looks like an awesome place to visit full of cute walls, shops and places to eat!

    • Susan Ripley
      | Reply

      It really is! Hope you have a chance to visit soon. 🙂

  5. Ivy
    | Reply

    Wow this is totally different from the Mexico City we’ve been led to believe. I know the food must be through the roof, but I totally didn’t expect that many hip cafes and colorful streets! We had to transfer in Mexico City on our way to Guatemala and we were met with the same reaction: “Why are you going to Mexico City?” “Are you sure you wanna go there” “Just stay in the airport”- I’m glad to have read this post, and I feel like more people should too!

    • Susan Ripley
      | Reply

      Exactly! I hope others are able to leave their preconceptions behind and venture into this awesome city. As long as you do a little research and use common sense, it’s an amazing place to visit!

  6. Cassandra Le
    | Reply

    I have only heard some amazing things about Mexico City! I would love to go there one day and explore everything that you mentioned!! You’re right about the city being beautiful; the pictures you captured make it look so romantic!! I also love the hip cafes that you took a snapshot of, they’re so quirky!

    • Susan Ripley
      | Reply

      Thanks for your comment and kind words! Hope you’re able to visit soon. 🙂

  7. Thanks for your amazing photography showcasing quite a bit about Mexico City. I’ve gotta admit, even after being obsessed with the idea of living in Mexico for several years now, I’ve never given much thought to Mexico City. Yet your pictures are beginning to turn the tides of my mind. There’s clearly a lot going on in the artistic, cultural and culinary circles in the city. I can’t die a happy man without trying some true true Mexican street food!

    • Susan Ripley
      | Reply

      So glad to hear that! And thanks for your kind words about my photos 🙂 Hope you get to experience Mexico City for yourself soon!

  8. Liva
    | Reply

    Just came back from Mexico City and everything you say is very true. The food is amazing and the city ir well worth exploring, so vibrant!

    • Susan Ripley
      | Reply

      So glad to hear you had a great experience there too! 🙂

  9. You’ve captured Mexico City so beautifully! I remember visiting Cancun and not telling my parents because they stereotypically think Mexico is dangerous. But then again, everywhere has its dangers. Gonna show my parents your photos and let them guess where. It’s gonna be a fun game XDD

    • Susan Ripley
      | Reply

      Haha! I would love to hear the outcome of that. 🙂 Agreed, everywhere has its dangers, including our home country. As long as you do research, and use good common sense Mexico City is an awesome place to visit!

  10. Cynthia and Herman
    | Reply

    Hi Susan,
    this posting contains a picture of Frida Kahlo on a mural. It is the one with the flowers. Maybe you can tell us where we can find this mural. We are heading to CDMX in feb 18.
    Thnx for your response.
    Greetings from Holland
    Cynthia and Herman

    • Susan Ripley
      | Reply

      Hi Cynthia and Herman!
      Thanks for your comment! Unfortunately, I don’t know the exact location of the Frida mural. The photo was taken by my husband one afternoon when I wasn’t with him. He believes it was in the Juarez neighborhood or in between Condesa and Juarez. Hope that helps and sorry I couldn’t be more specific! There is also lots of great street art in the Roma neighborhood.
      Enjoy your trip!

  11. Hanna
    | Reply

    Susan,
    I am leving tommorow to MC. We are staying at historical center, but would like to explore other parts of the city as well. Which neighborhood would you recommend for an all day strolling with a 8 year old? Any other tips?

    • Susan Ripley
      | Reply

      Hi Hanna!
      How exciting. I’d definitely recommend spending an afternoon strolling Condesa and Roma – they are pretty, safe neighborhoods with nice architecture, beautiful parks, cute cafes, nice street art, etc. Chapultepec Park is also right next to Condesa – it’s a giant green space with some museums and a castle. Ciudadela is a great artisan market – not necessarily close to Roma/Condesa, but easy enough to take an Uber to. Also be sure to visit the top of the Torre Latinoamerica while you are in the Centro – there is a great view of the whole city up there – especially on a clear day. If you have time, a day or afternoon trip to Teotihuacan would also be amazing, and I think you’re 8 year old would love it. It’s easy to take the bus from the Terminal de Autobuses del Norte straight to the pyramids. I think it takes about a half hour.

      Hope that helps! Have an amazing time!

  12. Julianne
    | Reply

    Susan!! Do you still live in Mexico City, or in BK now? I’m visiting Mexico City for the first time in March 2018 and am devouring your posts. If you’re in BK, would love to meet up for some coffee & Mexico City advice! 🙂

    • Susan Ripley
      | Reply

      Hey Julianne!
      So exciting you are heading to Mexico City – it’s my favorite city in the world!
      I don’t live in BK anymore. I travel full-time, usually bouncing around every couple months. I’m on the coast of Mexico now, but as it happens, I will be going back to Mexico City January-February of next year! Not sure if I’ll still be there in March, but if so would love to meet up!
      But feel free to email me. I have tons of personal recs that I can send you – some of my fav street tacos, mezcal bars, etc! [email protected]

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