The Jury's Back on these Top Mexico City Destinations!
1. Catedral Metropolitana de la Ciudad de Mexico
We actually happened upon this gem by accident because the friend we were crashing with was considerate enough to rent an apartment two blocks away from this #1 most recommended site to see in Mexico City. You can’t miss this giant church from anywhere in the area; it’s located on the central square of the historic district called Zocalo. Spanish colonizers compassionately decided to erect a big-ass Church directly on the site of the Aztec’s biggest temple in the area once they had conquered their heathen foe, and 250 years later, give or take, you have this building erected letting all the other buildings in the area know who’s boss. It’s stunningly gorgeous and felt similar to visiting Westminster Abbey or St. Peter’s Basilica in that there is just so much to see. Each side has several different enclaves, each dedicated to a different Catholic hero, and both the interior and exteriors are jaw-dropping. Considering it’s free, breathtaking, and centrally located, I’d say go.
2. Bellas Artes
The Palace of Fine Arts (Palace of Fine Arts) is undoubtedly a building to marvel at. Like the Metropolitan Cathedral, it's located in the area where our friend lives, and also like the Metropolitan Cathedral, its extravagant dome is impossible to miss from anywhere in the area. If you’re here, take time to marvel at the building; wander in and gaze at the murals prominently displayed high up on all sides of the ground floor lobby. The museum only has one exhibit at a time, which costs 60 pesos. The line was wrapped around the entire building, with only a few ticket-holders being allowed up at a time so we decided to skip that piece. In all, I’d say I understand why this is on everyone’s “Top 5” list but don’t spend too much time here. Especially when you’ve recently had several cups of coffee and the lady at the box office is crystal clear with you there are no bathrooms there.
Chapultepec is used to refer to the large literal forest in the middle of Mexico City as well as the castle from which imperialist European dicks used to look down upon the peasants of Mexico City situated on the top of a not-so-shallow-despite-what-everyone-tells-you hill amidst all the trees. The park is nice to walk through, but be weary of fully grown men dressed as clowns performing some “street fun” for families in which they ask 10 year old girls who can “win the game” by doing the best sexy walk over to a group of 10 year old boys and catcalling them (it happened. I’m scarred. We’ll talk about it later.). The castle itself is gorgeous. It’s filled with relics of life in the castle (jewelry, beautiful dresses, paintings replete with Madonna/whore complexes), stunning gardens, and some amazing panoramic views of the city. I got completely lost in there wandering from room to room. Nick got completely lost in there wandering from instagram filter to instagram filter. I say go.
*One quick note -due to Mexico City’s elevation, the steep hike up to the castle can be cumbersome. Still worth it, but just know you’ll be trekking up a big hill to get there.
4. Anthropology Museum
Visiting Mexico City and not coming here would be like going to New York and not going to the Met or going to DC and hitting none of the Smithsonians. It’s the thing. It’s also the most expansive museum we visited during our time in DF. The Museum is dedicated to Mexico’s anthropological history mostly from Pre-Columbian civilizations (Aztecs, Olmecs, Toltecs, and all over Pre-Colombian civilizations that were located in what is now Mexico). I could spend all day reading every plaque and seeing every artifact but there’s no scurrying around the fact that the museum is vast, dense, dry, and didactic. If you like that kind of thing, it’s great. If not, decide how worth it is to you to pay the entrance fee (around $5 US) to see some artifacts and be able to say you’ve been here.
Alternate recommendation: It’s not uplifting, but consider the Museum of Memory & Tolerance, the best museum from our time in Mexico City. Located right across the street from the Bellas Artes, it’s Mexico’s Genocide Museum and it’s done incredibly well. The first half of the museum goes in depth into the Holocaust (not quite as extensive as the USHMM but still pretty detailed), followed by 6 smaller but still informative discussions of 6 other 20th-21st century genocides (Armenia, Cambodia, Rwanda, the Balkans, Guatemala, and Darfur). It’s definitely graphic but worthwhile and feels particularly relevant right now. If you can’t go or don’t want to make the visit to an exhibit this disturbing, consider making a donation in the amount of what your entrance fee would have been. The world could certainly use more institutions like this these days.
Coyoacan is a breathtaking neighborhood to the south of the DF, the center of Mexico City, whose more famous residents have included Leon Trotsky (this before he was murdered with an ice pick FTR) and Frida Kahlo and Diego Luna. Coyoacan is famous for incredibly vibrant stucco houses and its lively central square. The Frida Kahlo Museum itself is gorgeous and not intimidatingly large. Essentially, the museum created a small display of her works in each room of the house she and Diego shared and opened the backyard for exploration. Personally, I felt rather unimpressed with the house coming from my decrepit 300 square foot Brooklyn apartment but idk some of you might find it large and gorgeous depending on your personal living sitch ATM. Afterwards we visited a market to buy some meats and veggies which was dope and then I got ripped off by a ninety-something year old selling peanuts on the side of the road but it’s whatevs. Verdict: Go.
BONUS: La Roma/La Condesa
Have you ever paid $326 for a beer in New York and thought to yourself: “Is life always like this?” Have you ever handed over several precious family heirlooms and your entire life savings to a potential landlord just to be considered for an apartment in New York and asked yourself: “Is this really what life is all about?” Have you ever happened upon a magical neighborhood somewhere in America filled to the brim with obnoxious yuppies and said: “Boy, if only I could find a neighborhood this cute in a country NOT run by Nazis!” Well - if so we have great news! These two adjacent neighborhoods in DF will hit the spot. These trendy neighborhoods are a bit more expensive than elsewhere in the Mexico City (which means an artisanal fancy AF sandwich with a buttload of salad on the side cost $8 not $3) but are the best for such activities as strolling aimlessly, going on a jog, getting wasted like a true lady at a cocktail bar instead of on your couch at noon, and going shopping (my clothing budget is $0.00 RN but there are plenty of places for all you Paris Hiltons to go to town). Of all our time in DF (local slang for Mexico City), we loved this the most. If you’re not doing a super-budget trip this is where you’ll want to stay, and if you are you’ll want to come grab a midday cup of coffee here and stroll. Go.
Have we missed something? Add to the conversation below with your Top 5 in Mexico City!