Mexico City: a short guide to what you can do in the city of contrasts

We arrived in Mexico City at the end of our 1 month journey throughout Mexico and had a huge surprise: compared to the rest of the country this huge, almost 22 million inhabitants metropolis seems like a totally different land. From its skyscrapers to its favelas, there is something worth seeing for every type of traveler. Good to know: one metro trip costs 5 MXN and the coverage is very good, which makes it a perfect mean of transportation inside CDMX.

Here are some of our recommendations for your next visit here:

  1. Take a ride on the newest attraction, the CableBus

One of our personal favorites in Mexico City and a great opportunity to visit its other, poorer side, in a safe way. The Cablebus was inaugurated in July 2021 and links the Indios Verdes metro stop to the Cuautepec neighborhood, passing over kilometers of favelas.

The cost of one trip is 7 MXN, payable only by the transportation card which can be bought with 15 MXN at the initial station. More persons can use the same card and if you no dot exit the final stop of the Cablebus you can return using the same trip you paid (thus paying 7 MXN instead of 14 MXN). A one-way trip takes for around 30 minutes, so be ready to spend 1 hour in the air.

  1. Spend a few hours at the beautiful Chapultepec Castle and its surroundings
Its interior garden with a veiw

Going to a museum is not always a priority when we are going to a new city, but we enjoyed a lot this one. You can easily spend a few hours inside the Castel and its gardens, either learning about Mexico’s history or simply admiring the views of the city from above.

To get here you will pass through the biggest green urban area (638 hectares wide), home to lots of friendly squirrels waiting for a small snack from your side. This park is beautiful to walk in, if you are not too tired after visiting the castle :D.

Entry ticket price: 80 MXN/person. Make sure to get there early in the morning because due to Covid the number of visitors/day is limited.

  1. Take a DIY day trip to the Teotihuacan Archeological Site
Pyramid of the Moon
Pyramid of the Sun
Pyramid of the Moon

Easily accessible on your own, we still wonder why so many visitors pay an overpriced cost to get here.

For us this site, with its Pyramids of the Sun (64 m tall and 200 m the length of one side) and the Moon was even more impressive than Chichen Itza and we highly recommend you to plan for spending a few hours here. As per 2021, you are not allowed to climb on the pyramids anymore, but you will still have plenty of opportunities to take nice photos.

To get there, take the metro to the Autobuses del Norte stop, leaving you exactly in front of the bus station. From here, search for the sign to Autobuses Teotihuacan office (in the left end of the station), from where you can buy your one way ticket with 52 MXN/person. The trip takes for about 1h and 20 minutes and you should expect random stops and sellers boarding the bus in order to make some money 🙂

The ticket for the Archeological Site costs 80 MXN/person and can be paid only in cash. For catching the return bus to the city you just need to get outside of the site, on the main road, and not long after a bus will pass. Just wave to the driver and you can pay him directly the same 52 MXN/person.

  1. Enjoy the street food (available EVERYWHERE)

In Mexico City you can find street food on almost every street. From tacos, empanadas, local meat dishes and chicharron, there is something appealing for anybody here. Moreover, as all around Mexico, the street food prices are so low that sometimes make cooking at home be less economical than eating out.

However, this is the case of the local food carts and not the touristy restaurants, which are a completely different story in terms of prices. Plus, you will have an authentic Mexican experience eating where the locals eat (and remember, if the place is busy or has a waiting line, you should wait too, the locals always know best).

  1. Visit Basilica of our Lady of Guadalupe and the monastery site
View from the miradoro
The picture is totally fine, the church is literally sinking so for now this is its position (inclined)

Easily accessible by metro (La Villa/Basilica stop), this pilgrimage site is truly amazing. The complex hosts not only the main, round-shaped basilica, but also several temples and a mirador.

Entrance cost: free.

  1. Spend half of a day at the National Museum of Anthropology

Another perfect spot for history lovers and not only. You can easily spend half a day here, as the museum has a lot of exhibits and is quite big itself also. We would recommend you not to miss this place while in town, as it is definitely a must-visit in Mexico City. Here you can learn a lot about the Maya culture. It can be easily combined with the visit to Chapultepec Castle and park in one day, as these are located very close to each other.

Entrance price: 80 MXN/pers.

  1. Take a dip into the chaos at the traditional Mexican mercados
Mercado de Dulces
Mercado de Flores
Mercado Sonora
Mercado Sonora

We went on foot towards Mercado Sonora from the Zocalo and we are very happy he did so: on this way you will pass through markets for clothes, food, sweets, flowers, animals and esoteric items. But get ready for an adventure, since these are not the normal mercados you would expect. You will see great chaos, lots of people crowded on the small streets and even lots of prostitutes among the sellers (I know, we were also shocked).

Best part: you will get a highly authentic experience for free.

  1. Get to know the architecture from its Zocalo

Head to the main square, one of the most touristic places in the capital, observe the people around and also go visit the main sites around, you will not regret it for sure. Among the points you can visit here are Cathedral Metropolitana, Templo Mayor (the excavation of the ruins )or Paroquia el Sagrario Metropolitano.

Visit cost: free.

  1.  Climb some of its tall neighboring volcanoes

Pico de Orizaba (5636 m tall), La Malinche (4461 m) or Iztaccihuatl (5230 m) are only some of the peaks that you can reach as 1-2 day hikes from Mexico City. If you need a guide or just want to join a group AirBnb Experiences or TripAdvisor are good places to start your search.

  1.  Have a lifechanging experience at EcoAlberto Parque (not for the faint of heart ones)

This is one of the experiences we came to Mexico for and ended up not doing it. Unfortunately this mock illegal border passing trip is organized only on specific Saturdays, depending on the number of persons signing up, so try to write them on Facebook long in advance.

It is a physically demanding trail through dark, mud, bushes, to which you can add fake traficants, armed robbers and a police flagrant. However, it is probably one of the most authentic experiences you can have in Mexico if you wish to see how does the trip of thousands of illegal border crossers from Mexico to the US looks like.

Heads up: after reading tons of reviews online we would suggest you not to take ANY valuables with you. Moreover, get ready to rent a car in order to get there since the place is very remote and no public transportation goes there.

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