Mexico City: what to do

Mexico City, the capital

Mexico City is the capital city of Mexico, it is the Federal District, home to the federal powers of the United Mexican States. It is one of the largest cities in the world, counting about 9 milion of inhabitants, it is also an important political, economic and cultural hub for the country. Mexico City is also called Districto Federal or México by its inhabitants.

This city is divided into 16 neighborhoods, called "delegaciones" and over the years some municipalities close to the city have become part of the capital, such as Coyoacan, San Angel and Tialpan. Anyway, these smaller municipalities have managed to maintain their colonial charm.

Neighborhoods

Historic Centre: it is the area surrounding the Zócalo or Plaza de la Constitución, and reaches Alameda Park. Here it is possible to admire many historical colonial monuments and the famous Templo Mayor Azteco. Zocalo is the largest square in Latin America and the third biggest square in the whole world, after Red Square in Moscow and Tiananmen Square in Beijing.

Chapultepec and Lomas: Chapultepec is one of the biggest urban parks in the world. It hosts the main zoo, a castle turned into a museum, several lakes, an entertainment center and other museums. Lomas de Chapultepec is the richest neighborhood of the city, its streets are studded by elegant villas and residences.

Planco: It is one of the richest residential areas. This neighborhood hosts some of the most expensive shops and boutiques of the city. Moreover, the most important embassies are located here as well as luxurious restaurants, discos and hotels.

Zona Rosa: It hosts Paseo de la Reforma, an important business centre of Mexico City. It is also famous for being the gay district of the city.

Coyoacán: It is a beautiful colonial city absorbed by the capital. Nowadays, it is a relevant cultural centre and home to many artists. Here it is possibile to admire many museums and cathedrals.

Condesa and Roma: They were two rough districts of the city, now both host several restaurants, pubs and shops. These districts are located on the opposite sides of Avenida Insurgentes, around Parque Mexico and Parque España.

San Angel: It is a fashion district with pebble streets studded by luxurious shops and restaurants. It is a rich residential area known thanks to its art market.

Xochimilco: It is also known as the Mexican Venice due to its canals belonging to Aztec Empire and the ancient Xochimilco lake. This neighborhood has maintained its old traditions, although Mexico City has influenced its urbanization.

Santa Fe: It is a modern business centre, where buildings and skyscrapers are located.

Del Valle: It is the southern residential, business and shopping district of the city.

Juárez: It is a residential zone close to Cuauhtémoc. The area was subject to a decline around the 80's due to the earthquake of 1985 and other events. Then, the area has been restored to give it a new prestige.

Tlalpan and Pedregal: It is the largest neighborhood and the house of Ajusco, a volcanic mountain and National Park. It is one of the highest mountains near Mexico City.

What to see

Plaza de la Constitución: It is also known as Zócalo, it is located in the Historical Centre and is one of the biggest squares in the world. The space is surrounded by historical buildings, including the City Hall and the Cathedral.

La Catedral: It is the biggest cathedral in America. It hosts several altars, including the main one made with sterling gold.

Basílica de Guadalupe: It is the holy place of the American Catholicism. It is a destination for many pilgrims coming from all over the world, especially during the annual celebration on December 12nd.

Ciudad Universitaria: It is the main campus of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, the National Autonomous University of Mexico. It is located in the Avenida Insurgentes Sur and is one of the largest universities in the world, counting over 270,000 students per semester. It has been declared Unesco's World Heritage Site in 2007.

Coyoacán: It is a historical colonial district, where it is possible to admire the Frida Kahlo Museum: this building was her house and was also inhabitated by Leon Trotsky and Diego Rivera.

Plaza Garibaldi-Mariachi: It is a characteristical square surrounded by coffee bars and restaurants. Here it is possible to assist to folk-music performances, this is why tourists love it. These Mariachi of Jalisco groups wear traditional Charro clothes and play trumpets, violins, guitars and guitarrón. The square is surrounded by small trucks where many pitchmen sell drinks. The surrounding district is not really interesting, but the square is an unmissable spot.

Alameda e Paseo de la Riforma: Paseo de la Reforma is a 12km-long boulevard and a big park in Mexico City. The name comes from the liberal reforms of the Mexican president Benito Juarez.

Torre Latinoamericana: It is the perfect place to enjoy a breath-taking view of the city. Its central location, height and history make it one of the main sights of Mexico City.

Furthermore, Mexico City is the city, which has the most museums in the world. The Museum of the Palacio de Bellas Artes, the National Museum of Anthropology and the Modern Art Museums are some of the most important and unmissable museums.

Where to eat

In Mexico City it is possible to eat at all times of day. In fact, you can find bars, restaurants, wine bars, street food stands (comida callejera) serving delicious tacos and other Mexican specialities costing from few pesos to whatever you want

In Polanco, Condesa, Zona Rosa and Historical Centre it is also possible to find restaurants with worldwide specialities: Italian, Japanese, Thai, Chinese and Argentine cuisine.

In order to discover the real Mexican flavours you should visit these restaurants: El Cardenal (Centro Histórico), Los Girasoles (Tacuba 8), Aguila y Sol (Emilio Castelar 229), while if you are looking for something cheaper you can enjoy Café Tacuba (Tacuba 28) and the several wine bars scattered in the city, as well as the ones located in the Centro Historico.

If you want to taste cheap and different specialities of Mexican cuisine you should visit La Merced: it is a central market reachable by pink underground line. Here it is possible to find several restaurants and stands serving everything you could want.

Panaderia Madrid located in Calle 5 de Febrero, just few kilometres south of the Zocalo, is another unmissable spot. It is an ancient bakery where it is always possible to buy fresh bread or buy tacos and taste Mexican cuisine.