Mexico City is a huge, vibrant city with so much to see and do. 21 million people (I think I encountered most of them while walking!). A few of the highlights that I enjoyed are:
• The Historic city center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site consisting more than 1400 important buildings from the 16th to 19th centuries, as well as beautiful buildings and architecture (both old and new). Example… the Main Post Office is unbelievably gorgeous, truly something to see.
• The Zocalo (Plaza de la Constitucion) – the main square, a popular gathering place for centuries, 1 of the world’s largest squares.
• Cathedral – the largest and oldest in the Americas, started in the 1500s, located on the Zocalo
• The National Palace, also located on the Zocalo. Worth a visit to see “The History of Mexico” murals by Diego Rivera, full of details from the times of the Aztecs on.
• Palace of Fine Arts (Palacio de Bellas Artes), a gorgeous building that serves as an opera house and concert hall. I strongly recommend attending a performance of the “Ballet Folklorico”, which is a wonderful display of music and dance from all over Mexico (get tickets thru your hotel concierge, easier than doing thru Ticketmaster). Plus a performance is the only way to see the spectacular glass-mosaic curtain made by Tiffany’s, with over a million pieces of stained glass depicting the valley of Mexico – lovely!
• Alameda Central, a beautiful park with numerous fountains and sculptures, next to Bellas Artes.
• Chapultepec Park, over 1 ½ square miles, begun in the 15th century. Popular for lakes, sports facilities, museums, zoo, etc.
• House of Tiles (Casa de los Azulejos) – built as a residence in 1596, boasting a façade of beautiful blue and white Talavera tiles, with a lovely interior that now includes a Sanborns restaurant (nothing fancy, good for lunch, loved the Enchiladas Suizas)
• Museums – there are over 150 in town with something for everyone, from art and history, to children, even chocolate! Arguably, the top 1 to see is the Anthropology Museum, located in Chapultepec Park. You could spend several days to check out the various rooms, from Aztec to Mayan Indians, etc. but 1 ½ - 2 hours will give you a good overview. Many museums are set in lovely colonial buildings, worth seeing just for the setting.
• Paseo de la Reforma – a wide tree-lined avenue stretching about 9 miles across the main area of the city, modeled after the great boulevards of Europe. Runs from downtown to Chapultepec Park, with lots of greenery, a few fountains, skyscrapers, hotels, restaurants, etc.
HOTELS: I loved where I stayed, the prettiest hotel I’ve ever been. Gran Hotel de la Ciudad de Mexico (Grand Hotel of Mexico City), perfect location right around corner from the Zocalo, 60 rooms, 5 floors. All rooms open to a central lobby area, covered by a stunning Tiffany stained glass ceiling. Their Terrace restaurant has beautiful views of the Zocalo, all lit up at night. https://granhoteldelaciudaddemexico.com.mx/en/
FOOD: Mexico City is a top choice for foodies, from street food eaten standing up on a corner, to gourmet restaurants, lots of choices. In 2010, UNESCO named traditional Mexican cuisine an “Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity”. And, while you can get tacos and quesadillas, try some of the local specialties as well. Some foods are spicy, many aren’t. The soups are wonderful (my favorite was “chapulines”, aka grasshopper). We ate lots of seafood, plus Barbacoa (tender, steam cooked meat). Try “chilaquiles” for breakfast (corn tortillas mixed with eggs and salsa, etc.). Or “mole”, a rich sauce with 20 plus ingredients, including several types of dried chilies, and usually chocolate, although not necessarily sweet. There are numerous variations.