Mexico City ๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡ฝ

This vibrant metropolis is the capital of Mexico and the gateway to Central America.  At a high altitude of 2240 metres above sea level it is surrounded by mountains. Here are a few suggestions if you have a few days to explore the city.

Mexico City is the oldest capital city in the Americas, originally built by the Aztecs and now has a population of 21.3 million people.  The city is home to some amazing sights and delicious food (more about that later!)

1. Hot Air Balloon Ride and the Teotihuacรกn Pyramids 

The Teotihuacรกn (meaning place of the dead) Pyramids were built by the Aztecs in around 1000 BC and covered an area of 20 square kilometres.  Now the area just covers 2 kilometres.  In its heyday it was the greatest city in MesoAmerica (Central America) and had a population of 85,000 inhabitants.  It was dubbed โ€˜birthplace of the Godsโ€™.

If you walk down the main thoroughfare of the city, called Way of the Dead, you will reach Pyramid of the Sun, the largest building.  Close by is Pyramid of the Moon.  These are the only buildings left of this vast city.

The complex is located an hourโ€™s drive from Mexico City.

The other way to see the Pyramids is from a hot air balloon.  I was scared at first but it was absolutely fantastic!

It feels so peaceful just floating along in the air and the view is amazing.  I was a little worried when we came in to land as several men jumped out of a truck and ran towards the balloon!  It turned out they were just running to grab ropes from the balloon to guide it in to land.

The company I used was called Volare and I canโ€™t recommend them enough.  I was picked up from my hotel in Mexico City at 05:30 and driven to the balloon site near the Pyramids.  I then registered and was taken to my balloon.  Upon landing, when I was still in the basket, a bottle of champagne was opened.  Apparently, this is a tradition!  After the flight, breakfast was provided and I arrived back at the hotel just after 10:30.

The only problem is that sometimes it can be too windy for the balloons to fly so if you want to do this, donโ€™t wait for your last day!

Top Tip: Bring a hat and sunglasses

Hot air balloon
Pre take -off
hot air balloon
Over my fear and loving the hot air balloon life!
pyramids
Hot air balloon

2.  Historic Area

This covers quite a large area of the city but it is possible to walk between a few of the sites.

First stop is Palacio de Bellas Artes, (Palace of Fine Arts) and hosts events in music, dance, theatre and opera.  This is a majestic building with a beautifully coloured dome on the roof.

Mexico City

Just beside the Palace is Alameda Park.  This has a fountain, benches and lots of shaded areas.  It is a peaceful place to sit, relax and to watch the world go by.

Just across from the park is the Palacio Postal, also known as the Post Office.  It was built in 1907 and has very dramatic architecture inside 

Next is the House of Tiles on Mayo Street.  This is an 18th century Baroque Palace, built by the Count of the Valle de Orizaba family.  The building has a beautiful facade, covered on 3 sides by blue and white tiles.  It is now a restaurant so if youโ€™re feeling peckish, why donโ€™t you pop in?!

House of Tiles, Mexico City

At the end of Mayo Street is Constitution Square, also known as Plaza del Zรณcalo.  This has been a gathering place since the Aztec times and there is always something going on.  This has been the site of military parades, independence ceremonies and religious festivals such as Holy Week and Corpus Christi.  The square is 1 block from Templo Mayor (now a museum dedicated to the Aztecs), which, according to Aztec legends was the centre of the universe.

Bordering Constitution Square is the Metropolitan Cathedral or to give it its full name, The Metropolitan Cathedral of the Assumption of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary into Heaven.  This is built on top of a former sacred Aztec precinct and is the seat of the Catholic Archdiocese of Mexico.  The building work began in 1573 finishing in 1813.  This is a magnificent building and Iโ€™d recommend a look inside.

Mexico City

Last on the list is the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe.  This is just a short metro ride away (more on that later) and is a Roman Catholic Church, basilica and National Shrine of Mexico, which houses the cloak containing the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe.  It was built in 1709 near Tepeyac hill where it is believed that the Virgin Mary appeared to Saint Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoratzin.  This is a beautiful, peaceful and well looked after complex that is a joy to wander around.

Mexico City
Mexico City

3. Mercados

There are markets all over the city selling a wide variety of merchandise from flowers to household goods, to religious items, fruit and vegetables and handicrafts.

  • La Merced Mercado is a sprawling market selling any household item you could imagine and shoes, clothes, kitchenware, fruit and veg.  The market spreads for 88,000 square metres and is easy to get lost in.  One part has rows of fruit machines if you fancy a flutter and there are food stalls with the diners being serenaded by Los Bandidos (is this the correct name?!)  It finishes outside the building that houses Mercado Sonora.
  • When you first enter Mercado Sonora you encounter toys, pottery and wickerwork.  As you walk further in it becomes more sinister.  This is a witchcraft market and the stalls are selling artefacts that I canโ€™t identify, different sorts of potions (apparently some are hallucinogens!), incense and herbs.  One stall was adorned with an animal skull and a dried, dead, coiled snake.  I didnโ€™t go too near!  Even further in I started to hear chirps so followed my ears.  I had unfortunately found the animal part.  There are tiny baby chicks and chickens stuffed into tiny cages, infant bunnies  crammed into hutches and around 50 puppies staring up at me with hopeful eyes from small wire cages.  It broke my heart so I made a quick exit.
  • On a happier note, Iโ€™ll now tell you about Coyoacan Market.  This is in the south of the city and has been operating since 1921.  It is renowned for its bright colours, folklore and tradition and here you can find all sorts of artwork, handicrafts and souvenirs.  Artists such as Frida Kahlo (whose museum is close by) and Diego Rivera were known to wander around this market.
  • The most amusing market I came across is the flea market at Jardin Dr. Ignacio Chรกvez park, located opposite Hidalgo metro station and sells nothing but Star Wars artefacts!  From figurines to dvds and magazines, to books and computer games and to puzzles and board games, you name it and its there!

Top Tip: Remember to barter!

mercado, Mexico City
Wickerwork at Le Merced Mercado
sonora, mexico city
Mercado Sonora – witchcraft market
fresh fruit, Mexico City
Mexico City

4. Xochimilco

For time to relax away from the bustling city, head to the water village of Xochimilco.  It is about a 90 minute train journey to the south of the city, but well worth the trip I can assure you!

This area is known as the Venice of Mexico and is a Unesco World Heritage site.

Brightly coloured trajinera (tourist boats) are rowed skilfully along the peaceful canals and around the traditional floating gardens (chinampas).

Xochimilco is also home to the interesting, odd and unsettling Isla de las Muรฑecas (Island of the Dolls).  This was never intended to be a tourist attraction and was meant as a sort of memorial.  A young girl was found drowned in the canals and a local man started to hang dolls on the island to appease her memory. This is island also features in a ‘World’s Most Haunted’ list.

So head down to the water village, have a tour  of the canals on a trajinera, enjoy listening to the water bound musicians and have a shot of tequila or a glass of pulque (mesoamerica drink) bought from a floating vendor!

Top Tip: Book a a tour on a trajinera

boats, Mexico City

5.  Food

Mexico City has delicious food; fajitas, tacos, nachos, quaesdilas, enchiladas, guacamole and bean dip.  If you donโ€™t try them, youโ€™re missing out!  For those of you who cannot tolerate gluten a lot of options are gluten free but best to double check.

Whether it is a sit down meal you want for a relaxing break or if you want to eat on the go, there are plenty of restaurants and cafes or mercado and street vendors.  Enjoy!

food, Mexico City

Transport

Mexico City has a huge metro system going all over the sprawling city.

It is very easy to use and there is bound to be a stop near to where you want to go.

If you need a hand with directions when you get to your stop, check my handy travel apps page for navigation your way around without needing data or wifi.

The metro costs just 5 Pesos (about 0.20 pence) for 1 journey and you must pay in cash.  There are maps and staff at each station if you get lost or confused.

transport app
Subway app

C.King

Brit girl on a bummel. A solo female traveller accompanied by her camera, aiming to see as much of the world as possible and sharing what she's learnt along the way!

2 Responses

  1. Nick Thompson says:

    Thanks for all the amazing info. We just did our balloon ride, so beautiful!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *