Mexico City is a wonderful place to discover as the city is so large each visit can be completely different than the last. With a flight only one hour and 45 minutes away from Austin, there is no reason you locals can’t even go just for one romantic dinner at Pujol and back the next day. For a list of WHERE TO EAT IN MEXICO CITY, find my list of the best things from tacos to conchas to mole.
WHERE TO STAY
My favorite neighborhoods were Condesa and Roma Norte. They are safe, full of green grassy parks, and flooded with shops, bars and restaurants. Roma Norte felt a little buzzier to me but we were also there during the holidays when a lot of locals flee to the beach. For a cozy, apartment feel hotel without a hooplah of guests and staff, stay at AR 218 Hotel. It’s actually hidden behind a Starbucks and you walk through the corridor and an outdoor atrium to get to your room. The room is like a studio with one or two beds on one side, a closet that separates the living area with a kitchen, and then an outdoor area which would be a perfect place to read or meditate. It was around $250 a night.
For something a little more posh and trendy, go for the Hotel Condesa DF. It’s across from a gorgeous mansion and park, the entrance drives straight into a bar and lounge area with natural light where you could lay and drink for days. I loved the teal walls and cowhide booths.
The vibrant colors of tapestries, painted walls, murals, shoes, paintings, jewelry can be seen and found everywhere amongst the streets. There is literally a market or street food on every corner. Start at La Ciudadela Mercado de Artesanias. We showed up bright and early and had every vendor to ourselves. It’s open every day starting at 10 am. You’ll find baskets, sombreros, ceramics, margarita glasses, tequila shot glasses, t-shirts, table runners, glass drink stirrers, hammocks, leather bags, Diego Rivera replicas, paintings on tree bark and more. I LOVED this market and got a sweet painting of birds to go in my living room that I think was actually only a $5! The sweet Mexican lady that sold it to me is named Irene Garcia and to find her stall ask where Plata y Amate loci 176- pasillos 6y7 is.
Next head to EL BAZAAR SÁBADO, which you guessed it, is only open on Saturdays. There are so many markets in this area make sure you go to the one that actually has a painted sign outside that says Plaza San Jacinto No.11 San Angel so that you don’t waste your time on the streets! Inside you’ll find a gorgeous bi-level building with an outdoor restaurant in the middle. Once you enter, turn right and stop at the first ceramics vendor on the left. You’ll find steals here with bowls and plates at only 200 pesos! Every size pots, dishes, tea cups, serving pieces, canisters all exist here in blues, whites, teal, black. Walk through the market a little more for another ceramic place that is a bit more expensive called Abuelo Cero. There is also a great jewelry designer upstairs, and if you need a snack, next door is a cute lunch place with live music called Saks. Across the street you’ll see a crowded park with vendors selling gorgeous paintings and photographs. Take a stroll through here before you leave this neighborhood called San Angel.
About an hour drive and only a $20 uber ride (uber’s really couldn’t be any cheaper here), these gorgeous pyramids are stunning. Make sure you go as early as possible. We, however, did not listen to this advice and waited in line for tickets for over 30 minutes, and then waited in the burning heat to climb up the Pyramid del Sol that took 3 hours round-trip. To be honest, if I had known it would take that long and that the view I would see was what I saw, I would have rather spent my time staring at the Pyramid of the Sun straight on for three hours instead of standing that long. The view is great, but you don’t even get to SEE the pyramid because you are on it- ha! There is so much to see here including the Pyramid of the Moon, just a few yards down that is shorter and doesn’t have a climbing line. You’ll see murals and can get a guided tour onsite. It’s cool how close this is to the city. Also, there are these amazing handmade jaguar sound makers that create a huge cry when you blow on one- yes, I got one for my dad. Go early!!
Luis Barragán’s last home he designed turned art museum, CASA Gilardi, is a beautiful way to spend some time in between meals and the one site I say you can’t miss especially if you love color and design like me 🙂 Surrounded by plants filled with various shapes and eye-popping colors, the design I chose for my own home is heavily influenced by this space. I was actually in Mexico City when I found out I got my house, and now my one yellow wall in my dining room is inspired by Luis. While there are many museums worth your time in Mexico City, including Frida Khalo’s, I love the freedom of walking around the home, seeing the unique airy indoor pool, rooftop architecture, and use of contrast between bright colors and white as well as the shadows behind every corner outside.
FRIDA KAHLO MUSEUM
Whatever you do, make sure you buy your tickets online before your trip (unless you want to wait in the two hour line that packs up everyday). They are about $12 and once you get into the beautiful museum which was Frida Kahlo and husband/artist Diego Rivera’s house, you’ll want to purchase an audio set for 70 pesos which is about $4. You’ll walk through each room of the house learning about Frida’s disabilities growing up which is quite sad as she had polio and was also in a bus accident as a young child. She went through a lot at a young age and had a fantastic attitude allowing her to be full of life and enjoy every moment. She was married to Diego Rivera who was also a famous painter and muralist (while there was some disloyalty between them- what painters didn’t have that?), my favorite quote of the headset was “people came for Diego and stayed for Frida.” Seeing her bedroom and painting area was also fun. The garden is gorgeous and the bright blue and yellow colors of the house are a sight to see. Don’t miss this and don’t forget to pre-buy your tickets!
This park is almost 2,000 acres stretching at 1,695 to be exact. Compare that with Central Park’s 843 acres! Walk through here and you can see a lake, botanical gardens, zoo street carts selling trinkets and touristy items (I got a cookie monster hat for some reason). My favorite part was walking up the windy road to the see the Castle which was built in 1785 as a home at the top. It’s open everyday but Monday from 9 a.m – 5 p.m. for a small fee. It’s gorgeous inside, filled with natural light, stain glass windows at the very top, and reveals a view of the green city that is breathtaking. The Museum of Natural History is inside with objects from Mexican history including artwork, carriages, furniture, gorgeous murals, and a very well groomed garden area. Since all of notes and signs are written in Spanish only, it’s hard to navigate the history, but still beautiful to look at. Emperor Maximilian I of Mexico lived there with his wife Princess Charlotte of Belgium at one pint.
This area is known as the main square with lots of old buildings, cathedrals, and parliament feels. Walk into the Catedral Metropolitana and see mass taking place on Sundays while viewing the large structure. Since we were there in late December, we were able to see a giant Christmas tree posted up in the center with Feliz Navidad written on the buildings behind hit. Lots of holiday spirit! They also have a huge celebration with fire works here on New Year’s Eve. It reminds me of Times Square with lots of shops around as well.
Not too far down the road you can also see the Church of San Francisco which has the most beautiful gold pulpit shining and glistening. There was also a fun Salvador Dalí sculpture exhibit right outside next door that we happily stumbled upon. Melting clocks gave it away and a hilarious giant green thumb alluding to a gardener. If you keep walking, you’ll see my favorite building which is the Palacio de Bellas Artes. This is where the opera, dance, theater, all take place.