10 Memorable Experiences in Mexico City
Food & Wine
Arts & Culture
Many travel articles have been written about Mexico City in recent years. The city seems to be enjoying a renaissance of sorts. But I think the magic of CDMX is that it offers visitors so many varied experiences and allows them to create their own, very unique, memories. It is deeply rich in history and culture, of course, but all that lives so effortlessly in harmony with the vibrant and modern food and art scene of today. Whatever your interests may be, Mexico City really does have something for everyone. I'm sharing with you my top 10 Memorable Experiences in Mexico City (but there are so many more still to be had).
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Where to stay in Mexico City
Casa 9 Hotel
Petite luxury B&B located in the heart of Mexico City with modern decor.
Design forward hotel right in the city’s food scene.
At this boutique gem in downtown CDMX, nothing is overlooked: the design, architecture and gastronomy epitomize fantastic taste.
$25 food and beverage credit per room, per day.
Complimentary welcome drink per guest, per stay.
Upgrade at check-in whenever possible, guaranteed 2pm late check-out.
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Things to do in Mexico City
1. Tour Casa Gilardi
Casa Gilardi is the last home designed by famed modern Mexican architect, Louis Barragán, and is still owned and lived in by the original owners that commissioned the design in the mid 1970s. And, fun fact, the owners conduct all the tours themselves. In addition, or alternatively, you can tour Casa Luis Barragán which is located just a few blocks from Casa Gilardi. Do be sure to reserve your tickets in advance for either.
2. Spend a Friday evening at Lucha Libre
Immerse yourself in the culturally rich and rowdy world of Lucha Libre – one of the most authentic experiences you can have in Mexico City. With its colorful masks, flamboyant personalities and a whole lot of Spandex, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime spectacle that shouldn’t be missed. The Arena Mexico is just a few blocks east of La Romita neighborhood.
TIP: You can get tickets in advance but the easiest way is to just get to the arena a bit before 8pm to get them at the box office. Then make like a local and get your michelada at one of the concessions inside. A michelada is a very popular, low cost drink made with a lot of beer and a little of either a lemon/lime drink or - wait for it - Clamato juice! To make it really authentic opt for a rim of gooey tamarind paste.
3. Visit the Museo Nacional de Antropología
The National Museum of Anthropology is an obvious activity for anyone visiting CDMX, this museum is quite large but filled with incredible artifacts and details of the rich (and somewhat dark) history of the Mayan civilization. If you only want to commit a limited amount of time, I’d suggest focusing on the Sala Mexica, Oaxaca & Maya.
4. Hop in an Uber on Saturday and go to Bazaar Sabado
The Bazaar Sabado has been around since 1960 as a gallery to showcase the many diverse artisans in Mexico City. It is housed in what was once an 18th century home and it is filled on two levels with booth after booth of incredible handmade jewelry, home goods, food and bath/body products. If you want to bring home souvenirs from your visit, this bazaar and the surrounding markets just outside are where you need to be. Every Saturday in San Angél the parks are filled with artists selling a vast array of paintings and artwork.
TIP: For a delicious Mexican lunch in a gorgeous, 1700s hacienda, make a reservation at the San Angél Inn. Be sure to request a table in the sunny, rose-filled courtyard.
5. Take a Street Art Bike Tour
Get off the beaten tourist path and take a bike tour of the vibrant and powerful street art throughout Mexico City. Most of the street art in these local neighborhoods, rarely experienced by tourists, reflect stories from their rich Mexican history or express a commentary on more current events affecting their lives today.
TIP: Book a tour through a reputable tour company to ensure the quality of your experience and your safety. I can help you with that!
6. Experience the incredible world of Xinu
This is going to be hard because I don’t think words can do justice to the magnificent scents and beauty you take in when visiting this fragrance concept store. It is discreetly housed on the third floor of what looks like a residential building in Polanco. A security guard rings upstairs for you to be buzzed in then you climb two sets of stairs fully enrobed in a high gloss gray paint. Once inside the serene and dimly-lit space you are treated to a very detailed journey through the array of fragrances, their origins and every thoughtful element that influenced each original scent. The massive 20’ display, the space in which it sits, the plants outside the windows, every detail is meticulous. It is a magnificent marriage of art and science.
7. Hit the cash machine then venture into the labyrinth of La Lagunilla flea market.
It’s only open on Sundays so plan accordingly. Technically this flea market is called Tianguis de Antiguedades Lagunilla. I’m telling you that because if you take an Uber, be sure to give that name. La Lagunilla market is actually many markets that stretch across more than several blocks - we headed in the wrong direction and spent about 25 minutes finding the antique/flea market we were looking for. Here you can sift through vendor after vendor – some with incredible mid century modern furniture (which is just frustrating for those of us that have to board a plane home) and others with cheap knock offs. There are some gems to be had if you have the patience and you get there early enough to take it all in.
TIP: It gets very crowded so stay alert for pickpockets and be sure you have enough cash – most of these vendors don’t take cards and finding an ATM is no fun.
Places to eat & drink in Mexico City
8. Eat lunch at Masala Y Maiz
I don't want to be dramatic but if you are even slightly a 'foodie' you NEED to eat at Masala Y Maiz. This tiny spot is the creative concoction of a real-life chef couple bringing elements from each of their heritages (Mexican and Indian) to every dish. You definitely want to make a reservation in advance.
9. Rooftop cocktails at sunset
There is no shortage of beautiful rooftop restaurants and cocktail bars in Mexico City. If you’re in La Condesa, wander over to the Hotel CondesaDF and up to their rooftop to take in the leafy Parque España and Chapultepec Castle in the distance. For an even more dramatic view, head to the Sofitel Mexico City Reforma and their rooftop restaurant, Cityzen Rooftop Kitchen. You’ll take in the iconic sites of the Paseo de la Reforma and the Angel of Independence.
10. Eat a tostada en el Mercado de Coyoacán.
The Coyoacán neighborhood is full of local charm (and the famous Casa Azul, home of Frida Kahlo). It pulses on the weekends with the energy and real joy of life that you feel from the locals who call this area home. Yes, there are tourists, but this is a neighborhood where you truly feel that you are among the locals. The mercado de Coyoacán is a crowded public market filled with everything from fresh vegetables to party dresses to kitchen supplies and piñatas. But smack in the middle, among it all is the Tostadas Coyoacán. Find a seat, even if you have to wait a few minutes (you’ll have time to review the massive menu on the walls), order up whatever sounds good. I suggest two different ones to experience a variety of flavors. I, personally, recommend the chicken tinga and the camarón especial.
Need to Know
Looking for more travel inspiration? Check out my guide, Off-the-Beaten Path Savannah Guide.
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This is part of our ongoing series on travel to Mexico City, and our longer series on travel to Mexico.