Bienvenidos a México
Visit Mexico to eat well, sip fancy coffees and cocktails, while immersing yourself in a culture which still maintains its roots dating back to pre-Spanish colonization. Here’s how you can make the most of your time in CDMX.
A shout out to our hosts and pro tip guides: Humaira Patel (Instagram @humairap310) & Zeeshan Dhanani (Instagram @Zeeshand)
Mexico City or CDMX is an amazing place that contrasts the charm of a simpler life with all of the modern conveniences of western culture. Eat all three meals from the street vendors lining CDMX by day and night or splurge on first class dining options (if desired). CDMX is in fact home to one of the world's best rated restaurants Pujol, renowned for its fresh take on traditional Mexican street food, advanced reservations are required (1-2 months out).
The city covers the entire spectrum for food, coffee, and of course shopping. It is extremely clean, connected (T-Mobile worked everywhere), and rich in culinary and cultural experiences. During our 4-night stay, we did a lot but we were still able to recharge before heading back to our hectic lives at home.
Museo Nacional de Antropología
Kickoff your trip at the Museo Nacional de Antropología so you can start off slow and leisurely to overcome any jet lag from your flight. We woke up at 3 AM to catch our flight to CDMX so this was the perfect 1st day activity for us! The museum is expansive, beautiful and rich in architectural detail incorporating elements of both the indoor and outdoor throughout the campus. You’ll find the Stone of the Sun, the Aztec Xochipilli statue, and 23 rooms containing ancient artifacts.
The museum provides the context and perspective around Mexican history and culture which will prove useful throughout CDMX.
- Start here and get acclimated to the elevation change before attempting any strenuous activities
- Backpacks need to be checked and no water is allowed, but there are lockers available free of charge
- The museum is closed on Mondays
CDMX has an abundance of gourmet cafes so there's always one nearby. Few, however, feature a view like the one in the Sears building in Centro Histórico.
- How to get here:
Av. Juárez 14, Colonia Centro, Centro
06050 Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico
- Enter the building from the entrance on Av Juarez
- Take the elevator to the 8th floor
- Walk straight out of the elevator through the furniture department (this is an actual Sears department store) and you'll find the cafe on your right-hand side.
- Grab a seat on the outdoor patio and enjoy the view of the Palacio de Bellas Artes (which is directly across from the Sears Building). This is an excellent location to set up a tripod and do a time lapse of the city below.
- Drink plenty of water as it will help with the elevation change and hydration.
- The sun is extremely strong and can quickly dehydrate and burn you here even though the temperatures are fairly moderate.
The ancient city of Teotihuacán is a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the most visited sites for CDMX visitors. The site is home to three large pyramids; Moon, Sun, and Quetzalcoatl dating back to pre-Colombian times. The city was once the most significant development of its time, some experts estimate the population may have been as high as 15-250k people at its peak (according to Wikipedia).
The natives believed that this was "the place where gods were created" and countless human sacrifices were made here in honor of those gods at the site. The pyramids and the city, itself, are an engineering marvel and quite the humbling experience.
The Moon pyramid can only be climbed half way but provides a picturesque view of the Avenue of the Dead. Take a breather at the halfway plateau and take a ton of pictures before making the 15 min walk to the Sun pyramid.
The Sun pyramid is massive and can be climbed all of the way to the top. At 246 feet high, it is believed to be the 3rd largest in the world. Take it slow and steady, there are plenty of plateaus to stop at after each set of stairs. While you can climb higher on this pyramid, the view from the Moon pyramid is still better. After descending, take a break at the visitor center across from Quetzalcoatl to hydrate and use the bathrooms.
Temple of Quetzalcoatl
This pyramid is the smallest of the three pyramids but by far the most ornate. It is also commonly known as the Temple of the Feathered Serpent and is located at the opposite end of the Avenue of the Dead (from the Moon Pyramid). It's an easy climb and features intricate carvings directly in the pyramid itself.
After you’re finished with the pyramid, you can walk out of the exit through the Visitor’s Center (directly across from the Pyramid). This will lead to Entrance 1 where an Uber can be called for pickup.
- Take an Uber from CDMX to Teotihuacán for approximately 400 MXP one way
- Ensure the driver takes the toll way which will save almost an hour each way. We had to ask the driver both ways and ended up paying the 77 MXP toll that both drivers were trying to avoid.
If your Spanish is really good, you can remind the driver that the toll is technically included in your Uber fare and you shouldn't have to pay any extra.
- Request a drop off by the Moon pyramid or Entrada 3. Here is a map.
- We recommend touring the Pyramids in the following order
- Moon Pyramid
- Sun Pyramid
- Temple of Quetzalcoatl
- Exit directly across from the Temple of Quetzalcoatl - Entrance 1
- Bring plenty of water and use the restroom before you begin your hike
- Wear a hat and sunblock; the sun is intense
- The air is thinner at this elevation and it's easy to get winded. Going slow and catch your breath when climbing the pyramids
- If you want to buy a souvenir from the vendors, NEGOTIATE and stay strong to your price. Many times, you can buy the item at 50-75% discount of the original asking price.
Templo Mayor is another UNESCO World Heritage site. In its time it served as the “Main Temple” in the Aztec city of Tenochtitlan, or modern day CMDX. The site actually consisted of twin temples devoted individually to the God of War and the God of Rain. The site was later destroyed by the Spanish who built a massive Cathedral directly above the ruins of the original civilization. While the original site has largely been destroyed, it’s still fascinating to explore the ruins and learn the history of this great site.
Templo Mayor is an indoor/outdoor experience. The outside displays the remains of the ancient site with informative placards (Spanish/English) and offers excellent views of the soaring Cathedral in the backdrop.
The indoor portion is a museum home to ancient relics and artifacts. The museum is organized into 8 rooms (or exhibition halls) each presenting an aspect of ancient life (trade, war, worship, etc). The total experience can take 2-3 hours to fully appreciate and enjoy.
- Backpacks are allowed inside Templo Mayor, but water is not. Make sure to hydrate before you enter.
- Read about the museum exhibition rooms in advance so you don’t miss seeing the items that are most interesting – Room directory here
The exit of the indoor museum at Templo Mayor leads into the Zócalo (main plaza in CDMX) which is “The Place to-be” on the weekends. The plaza is also known as Plaza de la Constitución and dates back to the Aztecs who used it for ceremonies and rituals.
You’ll find all of the following in the plaza:
- Live music
- Food Vendors
- Souvenir Vendors
- Blessing rituals
- Native dancers and street performers
- Allot time to enjoy the plaza at the end of your visit to Templo Mayor or on its own.
- Check out CNT’s recommended activities at Zócalo here
An engineering spectacle, Instagrammer’s paradise, and bookworm’s dream all combined into one amazing megastructure. This library is truly one of a kind and worth the trip to soak it all in – it is a bit of a drive to get here from the city center! The floors of the library are suspended by massive steel supports on hinges (perhaps for swaying during earthquakes) and makes for amazing photos.
You’ll find studious school children hard at work, seniors exercising, tourists snapping pictures, dance crews practicing their choreography, and more at this super-hip establishment. Every city should have a library like this!
- Go during the day or have the Uber driver drop you off close to the entrance
- The neighborhood is transitional so it may not be safe to walk around after dark
- No SLR Photography is allowed
- Backpacks may need to be checked in when entering certain areas of the library
If finding inexpensive tchotchkes is your thing then there is no better market than Ciudadela. Find everything from ceramic skulls, magnets, blankets, panchos and so much more. Finding markets in every country we visit is a highlight for us. It may be the 'touristy' thing to do but you might as well indulge and help the economy while you're at it.
- Location: Calle de Balderas S/N, Centro, 06040 Cuauhtémoc, CDMX, Mexico
- Negotiate - remember you can easily knock the price down if you just ask
Have you been to CDMX? Where have you gone - let us know your recommendations in the comments section below!