Mexico City is currently having a moment. For years, Mexico’s capital was overlooked in favor of metropolises such as New York City, Paris and Buenos Aires, but not any longer. The destination sits atop many lists not only because it is so affordable (1 USD is equal to approximately 18 Mexico pesos) but because it’s such an exhilarating place to be.
It’s also extremely easy to get to. As the main hub for Aeroméxico, Mexico City International Airport can be reached via direct service from most major airports in the U.S.A. This means that within as little as two hours of boarding your plane, you can experience all the wonders that this vibrant, captivating city has to offer. Are you ready to book your ticket yet? Here’s all you need to know when planning your upcoming trip.
Where to stay
Though you can get around fairly easily in Mexico City thanks to Uber and an abundance of taxis, accommodations that are centrally located will go a long way towards making your stay that much more enjoyable. When only a luxury class stay will do, book a room at an internationally branded upscale hotel such as Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star The St. Regis Mexico City or Four-Star Four Seasons Hotel Mexico, D.F., two of the best properties in the city. Both boast prominent addresses along Mexico City’s grand avenue, Paseo de la Reforma. Easy access to restaurants, cafés and shopping take no more than a 15- to 30-minute cab ride to the surrounding neighborhoods of Polanco, Condesa, Roma or Centro.
For a hotel with more of a cool, artsy vibe, consider a boutique property such as the W Mexico City, which has entertained the likes of Justin Bieber and Amanda Seyfried. Located in the heart of the tony Polanco neighborhood and within easy walking distance of restaurants and shopping, W Mexico City employs what it calls a “W Insider” to help curate your stay. A step above the standard hotel concierge, the W Insider scouts the city for the chic, hip and fashionable spots to recommend to guests.
Where to eat
How does one describe the food scene in Mexico City? Exciting? Without a doubt. Delicious? Absolutely. From vibrant street food to the higher echelons of fine dining, to discover Mexico City is to immerse yourself in the wonderful aromas, spices and the wealth of tradition that is Mexican gastronomy.
Plan at least one chef’s tasting meals at contemporary Mexican restaurants like Enrique Olvera’s Pujol or Jorge Vallejo’s Quintonil. Experience inspired, farm-to-table locavore fare at Eduardo García’s tiny yet perennially busy Maximo Bistrot Local. Enjoy Baja-style shrimp or pork belly tacos at Cocina Conchita. And make sure you save room to savor traditional, centuries-old Mexican cuisine at Restaurante Nicos, a celebrated establishment that has been around since 1957.
For food with more international flair, newcomers Sushi Kyo and its sister restaurant Hiyoko Yakitori-Ya are excellent options for high-end Japanese food. At Nudo Negro, partners Daniel Ovadía and Salvador Orozco are doing a type of Mexican fusion cuisine, blending regional ingredients with exotic inspiration from Southeast Asia, India and the Middle East.
Other must-visit hot spots include the newly debuted J by José Andrés at the W Mexico City for sexy Spanish cuisine; Rosetta by Elena Reygadas for Italian in a charming setting; and Biko by Mikel Alonso, Gerard Bellver and Bruno Oteiza for more avant garde, modernist creations.
Where to drink
Need to find a watering hole in the Mexican capital city? Not to worry. By day, take a walk on the wild side with a fresh-pressed jugo (juice) or refreshing fruit-infused aguas frescas in flavors like piña (pineapple), tamarindo (tamarind) or horchata (a cinnamon-topped, nut-based creamy drink) found in local juguerías (juice stands) and street carts.
For coffee, head to Roma to find the best cafés of the moment. Places like Quentin Café, Cardinal Case del Café and Buna 42 are sourcing beans from small-batch roasters, using high-end machinery and employing bona-fide baristas who know their craft and pour competition-worthy latte art.
Come nighttime in Polanco, Roma and Condesa, the landscape heats up with craft cocktail bars such as Licoreria Limantour, where the libations are so beautifully constructed, you could easily order the entire menu. At Gin Gin in Polanco, exposed brick and wooden log accents set the stage for a fashionable gin-and-tonic experience. At Jules Basement, a reservations-only speakeasy accessible through the refrigerator door of a taqueria, dim lighting, and techno music set the stage for intoxication, Prohibition-style. And then there’s La Clandestina Mezcaleria, a hole-in-the wall mezcal bar renowned for its selection of 20-plus Oaxacan mezcals, which are dispensed via plastic tubing set against a glowing backdrop of red LED lighting.
If that’s too dive-y for you, upscale bets include the Living Room Bar at the W Mexico City, renowned for its designer club-like scene (DJ T.A.T. spins tunes from Wednesdays through Saturdays) and pretty people watching, or classically upper crust King Cole Bar at The St. Regis Mexico City, where you can lounge on the plush couches and enjoy a cigar or a martini while admiring the nighttime cityscape through the floor-to-ceiling windows.
Where to play
Whatever your preference for activities — be it art, shopping, sightseeing, spa going or outdoor excursions — the options are virtually endless in a metropolis like Mexico City.
If you’re looking for art, you see it everywhere. Not only is street art — wall murals, public sculptures and public art works — ubiquitous, but with more than 200 museums, Mexico City is home to the largest number of museums in the world. Your best bets if you only have limited time include Carlos Slim’s stunningly constructed Museo Soumaya, the Frida Kahlo Museum, the National History Museum at the Chapultepec Castle and the Museo Tamayo for contemporary art.
For sightseeing, a day spent in Centro (Historic Downtown) near the Zocalo square is perfect for admiring the stunning architecture embodied by the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, the Metropolitan Cathedral of Mexico, and the Palacio de Correos de Mexico (a post office that was formerly a palace). Complete your visit with a stop at the Plaza Garibaldi to catch a glimpse of the many mariachi troupes.
If shopping is your preferred way to spend the day, head to Polanco and be dropped off at Avenida Presidente Masaryk, Mexico City’s version of Rodeo Drive, for designer shopping at fashion houses such as Dolce & Gabbana and Louis Vuitton.
Should local arts and crafts be more your thing, head south to the borough known as Coyoacán for a stroll through the Mercado de Artesanías de Coyoacán (artisan market) for handmade jewelry, clothing and crafts.
Good day excursions include a one-hour trip south to the floating canals of Xochimilco, where you can rent a boat and float along canals (good for groups) as merchants on boats try to sell you everything from food and plants to arts and crafts. Another great day trip is to wake up early to catch a balloon ride over the pyramids of the pre-Hispanic Aztec city and UNESCO World Heritage site, Teotihuacan.
Finally, if a spa day is a must for your travels, you can’t go wrong with the full service Remède Spa at The St. Regis Mexico City, which is decked out with an indoor pool, a Jacuzzi and an expansive panoramic floor-to-ceiling vista.
Another relaxing option is the Away Spa at the W Mexico City, where you can cleanse your body and mind by trying out the ancient ritual of the temazcal, or sweat lodge, complete with a shaman to help guide the journey.