With a population of over 25 million people, Mexico City is a study in contrasts: an urban park double the size of New York’s Central Park, the number of museums second only to Paris, more than 40,000 restaurants living side-by-side with less appealing urban sprawl, traffic snarls at most hours, and pollution especially noticeable upon takeoff and landing. Despite that, it is usually easy to get around. Taxi and Uber drivers are almost always available within minutes. (The exception was the night we arrived when the International Women’s March had blocked several streets close to our hotel, turning a three-mile ride to our venue into an hour-long adventure).
Our first day was spent exploring the area around our hotel, the Gran Hotel Ciudad de Mexico, located in the historic center of Mexico City. The hotel itself is historic with Art Nouveau architecture, a Louis XV chandelier, and Tiffany ceiling. The hotel is next to Plaza de la Constitucion or Constitution Square, particularly beautiful when lit up at night.
The next day, we walked to the Palacio de Bellas Artes, where we viewed enormous murals inside and wide paths lined with blooming, purple, breath-taking jacaranda trees everywhere outside. The entire city was in bloom as these special, beautiful trees lined avenues and small streets alike.
We caught an Uber to Polanquito, an upscale neighborhood near Lincoln Park where we strolled and had a wonderful lunch at Brassi capped off with gelato at Amorino in the restaurant district. Knowing our time was limited, we headed to the Anthropology Museum. The best exhibits were the Mexica (pronounced meh-she-ka and also known as Aztecs) and Mayan exhibits, which are huge, incredible, and way too much for a short trip.
Since we were on our feet all day and all night on Saturday (we were there for a wedding, and Mexican weddings go all night), we decided that the hop-on, hop-off bus tour would be the least strenuous way to brunch and sightsee on a Sunday. We hopped off in Roma, another very fine section of this diverse and fascinating city. Brunch ended up being lunch with many dishes and exceptional margaritas. After our bus tour, we opted for shopping. Mexico City offers exceptional value for brand name clothing.
Monday, we toured the pyramids of the Sun and Moon at Teotihuacan, about an hour outside of the city. I’ll spare you the history lesson and just say that it’s one of the only pyramids left that you can climb.
We climbed to the top, a fairly steep climb I might add, and attempted to imagine what the city looked like 1,000 years ago – a bit challenging when you’re jostling for space at the apex of a pile of stones among everyone taking selfies. If crowds aren’t your thing, you might want to skip the climb.
On our way back, we stopped at Mexico City’s Shrine to Our Lady of Guadalupe, one of the most visited churches in the world. It was a very impressive collection of old and more recently built chapel, church, basilica, and gardens where thousands pilgrimage to every year.
We followed up our day-long activities with the best dinner of the trip at Azul, located around the corner from our hotel in a wonderfully atmospheric open courtyard with twinkling lights in trees, excellent service, and delicious food.
We left on Tuesday, impressed that Mexico City has so much to offer!