At its peak around AD300, more than 1,000 years before the Aztecs arrived in the vicinity, the city of Teotihuacan covered eight square miles and housed some 150,000 people. Three hundred years later the civilisation disappeared, although nobody really knows why. The highlight of the ruins are two great pyramids and an avenue lined with temples.
Teotihuacan is 30 miles north of the city - you can get a bus from the northern terminal every 15 minutes, or arrange a price with a taxi; Mon-Sun 8am-5pm; admission 35 pesos
The Aztec rooms are the most impressive, but the museum also has ample collections from the other great civilizations that flourished in MesoAmerica much earlier. The building is Mexican modern architecture at its best, but the explanations on the exhibits lack depth.
Paseo de la Reforma, opposite Chapultepec Park main entrance; Tue-Sun 9am-7pm; admission 38 pesos; nearest metro: Chapultepec
I've lived here for four years as a foreigner and never even seen a robbery or any kind of unpleasantness on the metro. For 2 pesos (not 10) i.e. about 12 pence to get anywhere, often faster than by road, it's unbeatable: safe and clean, (even if a bit old and ropey). Also one of the best places to watch and learn about life here.
The Aztecs fed their great floating city from artificial islands built on the edge of the lake. The last vestiges of this system are at Xochimilco in the far south of the city. You can take boats called trajineras around the islands, either following a peaceful and green route or join the crowds and the cacophony up and down the main drag.
Light railway from metro Tasquena to Xochimilco, then taxi.
Look at the buildings and go in when you can. Don’t miss the murals inside some of them, like Diego Rivera’s masterpiece in the National Palace on the Zocalo. If you watch your wallet, stroll into the more dilapidated parts of the centre behind the cathedral where street vendors, prostitutes and general faded glory hold sway.
Hit the Anthropological Museum at the right time on the right day, and you might catch a free display by the Voladores of Papantla - four daredevil feathered men who clamber to the top of a giant maypole, launch themselves into space with the slenderest thread around their feet, and 'fly' around the pole to the bottom. Four men making 13 rotations produces 52 - a mystical number for the Aztecs. Drop a few pesos in the hat of their sidekick - there are no safety nets here.
National Museum of Anthropology, Chapultepec Park.
White maize (called elotes) is one of the best steet foods you can buy in Mexico City.
The ears are boiled, then impaled on a wooden stick, and smeared with salt, lime juice, mayonnaise, a parmesan-like cheese and chili powder. It's unbelievably tasty, and a boon for vegetarians who may be feeling a little overwhelmed by the volume of meat on display. a good elote shouldn't set you back more than six or seven pesos.
The same corn, but in kernel form, is cooked into pozole, an amazing everything-soup that you eat with shredded lettuce leaves and raw chopped onion.
On just about any street corner, often from vendors who push steaming urns of corn and call 'elooootes'.
This little 16th-century town long swallowed up into the urban sprawl still has grace, charm and lots of life to watch wander by, although its days as a Mecca for the local intelligentsia are now over. The main square has several cafes and restaurants running along one side.
Nearest metro: Coyoacan
This is the house in the southern part of Mexico City where Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera lived. The table is set in the kitchen, and you almost expect them to walk in at any time.
Along the stairway, the wall is covered with retablas, religious cards that they collected. Upstairs in her bedroom is the painting that Kahlo was working on when she died - a portrait of Stalin.
011 525 658 5778
A colonial village with cobble stone streets, art markets and Frida Kahlo and Diego Riviera’s house.
Take the metrobus south on Avenue Insurgentes to Miquel de Queveda or a micro bus on Avenue Patriatismo going north to San Angel
Mexican masked wrestling. Where else can you see an evil monk wrestle a good nazi??
Matches are packed with more thrills, laughs and more fake punches than a bollywood film, and can include midget wresting and 3-on-3 girl action.
Lucha is a great afternoon/evening out for kids and adults and has a huge Mexican fanbase. Just be prepred to leave your political correctness at the door and to lose your voice a-whooping and a-hollering.
Arena Coliseo, Mexico City (nr metro Bellas Artes & Allende) every Sunday afternoon. Lots more locations and dates - pick up Lucha magazines from the street stalls for a few pesos or ask at your hotel - there are bound to be a few fans working there!
Forget Tequila and go for Mezcal, which is another spirit distilled from agave, but with a different process leading to a smoother, sweetish drink which can be enjoyed like a fine single malt whiskey. The ones to go for (in my opinion) are the reposado (aged for 2 years) or the anejado (aged for up to 7 years in barrels of white oak). Salud!
Cafe Popular and Cafe Tacuba are both intsitutions and deliver the authentic DF experience. Cafe Popular is great for good value breakfasts with tons of food and coffee. Can get very busy as it's (as the name suggests) very popular with the locals. Cafe de Tacuba is a bit more expensive but a real experience with waiting staff in pinnies and 50's style head-dresses. Very colourful decor and delicious food. I recommend the hot chocolate and sweet breads. Great to people watch, especially on a Sunday when clans of "chilangos" head out for food.
Cafe Popular - 5 de Mayo Street; Cafe de Tacuba - Tacuba Street nr Allende Metro.
Filled with activities for younger children at the weekends from painting to renting tricycles, the Parque Mexico in La Condesa is also pleasant for adults and near lots of restaurants and cafes. The duck pond is often rather smelly though.
Nearest metro Chilpancingo (not very near)
Coyoacan is a lovely leafy suburb of Mexico City. The area inspired artist Frida Kahlo and you can visit her beautiful blue house here. It is famous for its markets, on a Saturday and Sunday, for its great second hand bookshops and also its ice-cream (you should try mil flores flavour - a thousand flowers).
A great place to escape the hectic city centre, it is easily reached on the metro or by bus.
Coyoacan, Mexico D.F.
lots of buses from the centre, Frida Kahlo's house is on Calle Londres
With 250,000 students, 50% of all scientific research in Mexico, five internal bus lines, a cultural centre, an olympic stadium and a nature reserve (among other things), University City is an often overlooked but most fascinating spot in Mexico City.
Southern Mexico City. On Insurgentes, or at the Universidad Metro Station.
This beautiful palace is located next to the Alameda park. In its interior, one can observe a perfect mix of neoclassical, art nouveau, and art deco styles, together with murals by Rufino Tamayo and Diego Rivera. Besides the spaces dedicated to art exhibits, it has an enormous hall where you can enjoy a Mexican Folkloric Dance show on Wednesday and Sunday nights (35 to 60 euros). Seasonal tip: during Christmas season "The Nutcracker" is performed here. Closed on Mondays. Sundays free entrance (rest of the week: 3 euros).
Av. Hidalgo 1, Col. Centro.
Nearest station: Metro Bellas Artes.
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