Mexico City is a gorgeous, massive city that likely puts in the top three population wise worldwide. It's also home to over a hundred museums, hosts infinite parties and celebrations year-round. Mexico City has an evolving gastronomy scene that can put it among the great cuisines globally, and it's quite cheap. Between a remarkably efficient public transportation system, cheap Ubers, and very walkable neighborhoods, Mexico City is not nearly as daunting to get around in as many people think given what can only be called urban sprawl.
When was the last time you took public transportation to stroll among pre-Colombian ruins and climb pyramids? It's an easy trip whether you speak Spanish or not. And going to these awe-inspiring remnants of a civilization that date to 1000 BCE is not something that you need to do with an organized tour. It's remarkably simple to stroll at your own pace and go where you wish.
The National Museum of Anthropology is one of the world's greatest museums. And likely it's worth two days to visit. It acts as an anchor to an area of Mexico city where additional museums are within walking distance. And the Museo Nacional de Antropologia set in one of the greatest green areas Mexico has to offer. This is in no small part thanks to the Chapultepec forest playing host to its grounds. The museum itself covers four square kilometers and has 23 separate exhibition halls.
The historic center of Mexico City or downtown has seen an incredible revitalization in the last decade that includes multiple callejones (small streets) filled with galleries, restaurants, street art, street performers, smaller museums and more. If you walk around long enough, you'll stumble across one of the areas many famed pulquerias. Pulque is made from maguey sap, the plant responsible for mezcal production. This highly-sweet, low in alcohol concoction and its pulquerias were the center of Mexican social life until the mid-20th century until restrictions looked to shutter them.
To visit every medium to large sized market in Mexico City would likely take you over a month. Assuming you're not going to be returning home with all you need to cook Mexican for a year, it's time to choose just a few. The Mercado Jamaica is one of the world's largest flower markets and is comprised of 1,150 individual vendors in this sprawling and beautiful market. Food is everywhere to feed the delivery drivers and merchants alike, and the smell of all those fresh flowers is something you'll never forget.
This is the cultural heartbeat of Mexico. This famed art deco interior of the Palacio houses various sculptures designed by Leonardo Bistolfi and Agustí Querol Subirats, murals by Diego Rivera, David Siqueiros, Rufino Tamayo and José Clemente Orozco. Upstairs you'll find both the Museo de Arquitectura and the Museo de Bella Artes. The performance hall features a curtain made from nearly a million pieces of Tiffany glass and sees twice-weekly performances by the National Folklore Balles, as well as the National Ballet and National Symphony Orchestra. The Palacio also plays host to a rotating group of exhibitions year round.
Lucho Libre is something between American professional wrestling and a Mexican telenovela with thousands of hecklers rooting on their team throughout. The best matches in Mexico City are held at Arena Mexico, which provides an opportunity to buy yourself a mask. Dive into a plate of tacos al pastor on the street before queuing up and joining the night of madness.
La Lagunilla deserves its place as one of the world's greatest flea markets. It erupts into a destination for food, drinks, vinyl, old books, antiques, more in this market that has been ongoing for over 400 years. Think you can haggle? You've likely never met the famed chacareros. Furniture, lamps, jewelry, hats and more are to be found each Sunday in this flea market par excellence.
The ultimate market for foodies in Mexico City, San Juan Market (Mercado San Juan) is located in El Centro. Fancy trying deer or wild boar carpaccio? The fresh fish stalls will prepare you a ceviche or caldo of anything you point to, deliver it to your table and give you 20+ hot sauces to add some heat. You can spend two hours with three friends, try just about everything and struggle to spend $15 each.
You've likely seen the murals of her husband Diego Rivera in the Palacio de Bellas Artes. Now, it's time to visit the childhood home of Frida Kahlo. La Casa Azul was where Kahlo learned to paint following her bus accident. It was here that she and Rivera met Leon Trotsky who lived there with his wife for over a year.
Xochimilco was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987 and is steeped in history and tradition. Float through its canals in traditional trajinera boats, where you will come upon boats full of mariachi bands and ranchero trios. If you want to come back with nightmares rather than memories, ask if your captain is willing to make the trip to the Island of the Dolls, where hundreds of decapitated dolls are hung from the trees to scare away the ghost of a young girl who drowned near to the island.
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