I really love Mexico City. After several recent trips, I have a new respect for this extremely large city which often gets a bad rap. I hope you will add it to your list of places to see! It has great hotels, wonderful restaurants, amazing museums and art, and really interesting contemporary architecture. I particularly loved the Polanco, Condessa and San Angel neighborhoods and hope to come back to explore these areas even more.
There are so many things to see and do. Below are some additional things to add to your itinerary besides the murals and art museums that I have covered in a separate post:
Mercado La Merced: As the largest market in Mexico City you can find anything from produce, piñatas, toys, and kitchen utensils and everything in between. There are also many food stalls if you are on the more adventurous side. There are many vendors selling chiles and several different types of mole. I know that you will enjoy the experience. While there, make sure to walk a few blocks away to the Sonora Market where there are many sellers of items for the occult, witchcraft and Santeria. It is very interesting to experience.
In the Centro Historico make sure to walk through the beautiful Palacio Postal at Tecuba 1 and Eje Central (Lazaro Cardenas). This is a belle-epoque building with its gilded interior. Make sure to see the interior central staircase which is gorgeous.
Cathedral Metropolitana: On the Zocalo, walk through the largest cathedral in the Americas. It has gorgeous altars and many small chapels.
Templo Mayor/Museo de Templo Mayor: Walk east of the Cathedral to the Museo de Templo Mayor at Semanario 8. You first visit the site of the great temple built by the Aztecs in the 14th and 15th centuries which was found during the excavation of a subway line. Then walk through the attached museum to see items found on the site.
Festival de Mexico: In March there is an arts festival in Mexico City featuring classical music, opera, theater and dance performances; plus literary events and special art expositions. Check out the website for events and schedule.
Xochimilco, Prolongation Division del Norte 20: Explore the only part of the city where you can see the canals and semi-floating gardens built by the Aztecs. This is a popular place for Mexicans who rent colorful boats, or trajineras, to spend the day eating and drinking. There are other boats with mariachis or vendors selling food, flowers, snacks or other items. This is a place to experience real Mexican life.
Plaza de San Jacinto, San Angel: The place to be on a Saturday in Mexico City. There are many handicraft vendors in a handicraft area and many artists selling their paintings and other works. I found one of my favorite artists, Juan Carlos Breceda, in the center of the square. He is there every week. Make sure you walk through Bazar Sabado which is a building housing many more vendors selling handicraft and art. This building is open only on Saturdays. There is a restaurant and music in the courtyard. Also check out the 16th Century Iglesia San Jacinto, also near the square. The setting here is lovely. I really like the feel of San Angel and love much of the architecture.
Bosque Chapultepec or Chapultepec Park: This is a lovely park with great museums. Sunday is a great day to visit the Park as it is a favorite recreational spot for the residents of the city. It appears everyone is out with their families and the street vendors are everywhere to be seen. If you have time, climb to the Castillo de Chapultepec which was the palace of Emperor Maximilian in the 1860’s.
Castillo de Chapultepec: Located in Bosque de Chapultepec, this one time, hill-top imperial palace is now the National History Museum with great views of the city below. I visited the castle on my last trip and loved seeing the murals, paintings, carriages and the lovely stained glass in addition to viewing the rooms of the palace.
Museo Nacional de Antropologia: This is a must-see museum on your visit to Mexico City. It is one of the best museums of its kind in the world with its huge collection of pre-Hispanic arts and artifacts. The museum takes you through the entire history of Mexico before the arrival of the Spanish. Opened in 1964, it was designed by architect Pedro Ramirez Vazquez. My favorite piece is the Aztec calendar stone which was found in the Zocalo in 1790.
Palacio de Bellas Artes, Avenida Juarez: This is one of the most beautiful buildings in the Historic Center. It was completed in 1934 as a national theater. Go to the second and third floors to view the murals of Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siqueiros and Rufino Tamayo. Rivera’s Man, the Controller of the Universe, takes revenge on John D. Rockefeller who destroyed his mural in Rockefeller Center due to its socialist undertones. You should check out the website for the schedule of music and dance performances.
While walking in this area in the Centro Historico make sure to look up and see the Torre Latinoamericano, which was designed by Augusto Alvarez. It was designed in the 1950’s and was the city’s first skyscraper and the tallest building in Latin America. Also check out The Juarez Complex. It is an attractive complex of office buildings, plazas and arcades and housing.
Basilica de Guadalupe, Plaza de las Americas 1, Villa De Guadalupe: On the way out of town I visited the Basilica de Guadalupe, the most visited Catholic shrine in the Americas. There are two smaller chapels and the Antigua Basilica built in the 18th Century. But my favorite was the modern Basilica beside it. It was built in the mid-1970’s and was designed by Pedro Ramirez Vazquez. The interior was spectacular with its dome, lights and underground viewing area of the altar and shrine to the Virgin. There are beautiful gardens as well.
Condesa Tuesday Market, on Calle Pachuca, is a colorful market held on Tuesday mid-morning to around 6 pm. It is very colorful with its colored tents and beautiful fruits and vegetables. You can also find some food vendors and others selling ceramic cookware.
Thanks to a suggestion from my local driver, I found the Museo del Tequila y el Mezcal, the Tequila and Mezcal Museum in Plaza Garibaldi in Col. Centro. The museum has a fun bar/restaurant overlooking the plaza, a great store featuring a great selection of tequilas and mezcals for purchase, interesting exhibitions on the traditions of making both and a large bar and restaurant on the top floor where you get a complimentary tasting with your ticket purchase. It is a fun experience that you will enjoy it you have time. The plaza itself is lively with many mariachi bands.
Cafebreria El Pendulo: This is a local chain of six bookstores/cafes from Polanco to Roma and Condesa and Santa Fe. I visited the original Condesa location at Nuevo Leon #115 and loved the vibe where diners sit among the books. They offer music performances as well most evenings as well as on weekend mornings.