Walk down tree-lined streets, past sleek skyscrapers, through historical colonial buildings and busy markets, dine in world-class restaurants or on busy street corners, and then rest your head in a modern boutique hotel. No matter where you head in Mexico City, its colonias will both surprise and delight every single one of your senses.
After years of living in the shadows of its bad press, Mexico City continues to clean up not only its reputation but also its inner-city neighborhoods. Enjoy a coffee around Parque Mexico in Condesa or indulge in the city’s incredible street food in Roma. Visit one of over 150 museums, explore bustling Merced Market, or make a reservation at one of the Latin America’s Top 50 Restaurants, of which Mexico City is home to seven. There’s a little something for everyone.
Chapultepec Park, running between Polanco and Condesa neighborhoods is one of the many places to explore in Mexico City © Paul Franklin / Getty Images
Perhaps one of the most popular neighborhoods in the city for visitors and expats, Condesa was named after it’s original inhabitant, the Countess of Miravalle. It’s now packed with sidewalk cafes and international restaurants.
Head to Parque Mexico for an afternoon of reading in the sunshine. There are street vendors here all day long selling fresh coconut juice, juicy pineapples, and sticky sweet potatoes covered in cream. It’s where you’ll find families walking their dogs and teaching their children how to ride bikes.
Polanco is home to many upscale restaurants and shops as well as the renowned Museo Soumaya filled with the private art collection of Carlos Slim © John Coletti / Getty Images
This upscale suburb is home to Mexico City’s Rodeo Drive, Presidente Masaryk. Here you’ll find some of the country’s, and indeed the world’s, most sought after restaurants like Pujol and Quintonil, both of which consistently rank amongst the top 50 restaurants in Latin America and the world.
It’s not just about fine dining in Polanco, though. Stop into any of the cafes around Parque Lincoln for chilaquiles, cafe de olla, and fresh juice for a reasonable price. Wait in line for $1 cochinita pibil tacos from Taqueria El Turix. The neighborhood has an eclectic mix of food that will satisfy all taste buds and budgets.
This is also where you’ll find millionaire Carlos Slim’s private collection of art at the Soumaya Museum. This 60,000 piece collection is completely free to explore, so don’t feel like you have to see it all in one go.
As the name might suggest, this is the city center of Mexico City and where you’ll find a majority of its historical sights. The Centro Historico is also the original location of the Aztec city of Tenochtitlan. Explore the ruins at Templo Mayor, check out Diego Rivera murals at the National Palace, and see proof that the city is sinking as you walk through the Metropolitan Cathedral.
This area of the city is also home to several of Mexico City’s top museums like the Palace of Fine Arts, the National Museum of Art, the Museum of Popular Art, and the Franz Mayer Museum.
Mercado Medellin in Roma brings together foods from all over Mexico and Latin America © Sarah Stocking / Lonely Planet
One stroll down Roma’s main street, Alvaro Obregon, and you’ll know you’re in the land of the hipsters. The neighborhood is a combination of colorful colonial buildings and Art Nouveau architecture. Following the 1985 earthquake, it became the Bohemian center of the city where artists and writers flocked thanks to low rent prices.
While the rent prices have skyrocketed since then, the artistic side of Roma still remains, with top class galleries like Galeria OMR and Machete Galeria as well as the always fascinating Museo del Objeto del Objeto.
Juarez has sat in the shadows of Roma for a long time, but it is slowly emerging as a neighborhood just as worthy of your time and dollars, especially after dark. Juarez has smaller areas within it like Barrio Coreano, Mexico City’s Koreatown, and Zona Rosa, which is where you’ll find most of the LGBTQ clubs in the city.
It’s also home to plenty of top-notch eateries like Comedor Lucerna, a late-night food hall with burgers, tacos, hot dogs, and beer on draft, and newcomer Amaya, which is known for its extensive Mexican wine selection and creative menu.
Coyoacan’s tree-lined cobblestone streets and several interesting churches, museums and artisans’ markets make it one of the most pleasant places to visit in the capital © benedek / Getty Images
Perhaps known best as the birthplace of Frida Kahlo, Coyoacan has long been home to the region's most influential people. During Aztec times, the historic center was the location of a school for the children of Aztec nobles. When Hernan Cortes arrived, he set up a home in Coyoacan and used the very bricks from the Aztec school to build the Church of Saint John the Baptist, which still stands today (albeit with a little bit of support from wooden beams).
In addition to exploring Frida Kahlo’s home, Casa Azul, a day out in Coyoacan should also include tostadas from the Coyoacan Market and shopping at the Mercado de Artesanías near the neighborhood’s main square.
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