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A guide to Mexico City – bustling nightlife, cultural hotspot and Aztec backdrops

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Mexico City is the capital city of Mexico and also happens to be the largest city in North America, offering a host of options to travelers new to the city as well as seasoned veterans. It was founded in 1325 by the Aztec people, and was known as Tenochtitlan. Many scholars believe Tenochtitlan to have been the largest city in the world at that time, with a population between 200,000 and 250,000, four times that of London at that time.

Brenda Alonso

My Destination local expert on

Mexico City

What to see and do


Mexico City’s vast heritage can best be observed by visiting one of the city’s impressive landmarks. Why not visit Plaza de la Constitución, home to La Catedral and the striking City Hall. The district of Coyoacán also is worth a trip with plenty of interest from a cultural perspective. If you’re looking to see some of the infamous Mariachi bands play, head to Plaza Garibaldi. You can also see them at Xochilimco, a huge network of water channels where you’ll get a true sense of Mexico City’s Aztec past. Independence Day and Day of the Dead offer insights into what it is to be Mexican. These two events showcase the very essence of Mexican culture. Finally, if you’re looking for vibrant nightlife, then Mexico City is a clubber’s paradise.


Where to eat


Mexican cuisine is available throughout the city as well as international restaurants offering up a smorgasbord of differing delights. For breakfast, head to Duo, which serves fresh coffee as well as a dish involving crickets – not for the feint hearted. The street food in Mexico City is second to none – from tortas to tamales, tacos to enchiladas. For modern Mexican food, go to Restaurante Lamm for style and sophistication. The San Angel Inn also offers quality to the more discerning diner. If you fancy Mediterranean, try Prima on Calle Adolfo Rosado Salas. At La Casa Tropical, you’ll find a treasure trove of sugary treats for lovers of all things chocolate – sweet tooth essential!


Where to shop


There’s no shortage of shops in Mexico City and every whim is catered for in the malls, markets and shopping areas in the city. At Plaza Loreto, there are several boutiques, jewellers and high fashion shops. Mixup is the city’s music chain store and houses everything from dance to experimental to pop to traditional Mexican music. The Mercado de Sonora sells products related to Mexican witchcraft – you can also experience a shamanistic cleansing ritual should you so desire. Fonart is the place to stock up on artisan souvenirs – a multi-coloured iguana for the kids perhaps? There is also a lucha libre store dedicated to Santo, the popular wrestler. The item of choice here is the Santo handbag – perfect for trendsetters. Lastly, the Mercado San Juan is heaven for foodies. Make sure to loosen your belt!


Where to stay


Mexico City welcomes travelers as much as those wanting to paint the town red and families seeking somewhere quiet. The Camino Real Polanco Mexico is extravagant and decadent with elegant murals and sculptures. The Hotel Marlowe is well suited to young families with decent, large rooms and a gym as well as being a stone’s throw from the cultural district. The Four Points by Sheraton Mexico City represents a worthwhile option for young travelers on a budget, with internet access and spa baths in every room, this hotel is good value and has amenable services. For those looking for something more lively, try El Hostel Amigo with free airport pickup and 24 hour reception desk. Finally if you’re looking for an apartment to rent, Alameda Centro Histórico has great facilities, a gym and it handily situated close to the action while Grand Polanco is a fully furnished luxury apartment option.