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What to see and do in Mexico City – a guide to notable attractions and landmarks

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Due to its rich historical background and cultural heritage, there is plenty to see and do in Mexico City. With everything on offer from discovering the Xochimilco waterways and floating islands and soaking up the beats of the mariachi bands to uncovering colonial arts and hitting some of the city’s hottest night spots.

Brenda Alonso

My Destination local expert on

Mexico City

Plaza de la Constitución

 

Why not start at the Plaza de la Constitución, famed for the City Hall and the impressive La Catedral, which features an altar of solid gold. There is also a remarkable monument on Reforma Avenue and Florencia Street, marking Mexico’s independence in 1810 (El Ángel de la Independencia).

 

Coyoacán

 

For those particularly interested in the arts, there is the historic Colonial Arts District of Coyoacan. The area was home to Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, amongst others. The area was also used as a headquarters during the Aztec Empire for Hernan Cortes and the Spanish. You can also take a look round Leon Trotsky’s former home, where he lived in exile for the last 18 months of his life before being murdered by one of Stalin’s agents. Tours are provided by members of the Workers’/Revolutionary party.

 

Plaza Garibaldi

 

In the Plaza Garibaldi Mariachi, folk musicians gather to entertain the throngs of tourist passing through the area. Many of them are mariachi, dressed in traditional clothing playing guitars, trumpets and violins. The custom dictates that they are tipped for their efforts. Lemonade stands and cocktail stalls line the square to keep the crowds in the mariachi spirit.

 

Xochimilco

 

Xochimilco is a massive system of waterways and floating islands, with mariachi bands and taquerias (taco stands) passing by the trajineras (brightly coloured boats). It is the last vestige of what the city looked like when the Spanish arrived in 1521 and was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987. You can also visit the Hacienda La Noria, a grand colonial mansion featuring the works of Diego Rivera. There are also paintings by Frieda Kahlo. Peacocks and a strange breed of Aztec dog wander the grounds.

 

Independence Day

 

On the evening of September 15th at 11pm, the Mexican President or the City Mayor shouts ‘Viva Mexico’ from the presidential balcony. This marks the start of Independence Day, where residents adorn the whole of the city with ornaments and lights. People bombard each other with confetti, eggs and flour-filled socks. The following day, there is a military parade through the city involving 15-30,000 soldiers of the Mexican armed forces march through the streets in their finest regalia. There is also a celebratory air show.

 

Day of the Dead

 

November 1st and 2nd sees the infamous Day of the Dead take place throughout not just Mexico City, but the country as a whole. People pay their respects to loved ones that have passed away, adorning their graves with marigolds and vibrant colours. Far from being morbid, the event marks a celebration of life with relatives giving each other candy skulls and bones made of chocolate.

 

Going out

 

If you’re looking to party, Mama Rumba’s at Queretaro #230 in Colonia Roma offers Latin music, in particular timba, salsa and cumbia. Packed to the rafters, you’re sure to have an energetic night here. Manguu bar has an exhaustive drinks list, including formidable martinis – perfect for an intimate night with a lover or a cosy night with a few friends. El Rincon Cubano puts on Cuban nights with 2 for 1’s on beer and mojitos. La Casa de las Sirenas sells 146 types of tequila. Make sure to have your hangover cure ready for the morning after!