How amazing of an experience would a quick trip to Mexico City be?
February 19, 2013 9:22 PM   Subscribe

I have a relative who will be on a business trip to Mexico City for about 10 days in March, and I am very tempted to go down there for a few days and visit. However I am also concerned about the number of vacation days I will be burning up as I already have two other short trips on the books for March. I've been curious to see D.F. (Mexico City) for a long time. We would be staying in the heart of downtown, in the shopping/financial district, close to the huge urban park and a bunch of museums.

I guess my real question is, is this going to feel like an amazing cultural experience or more like just a big 'typical' metropolitan city? I've made several trips to Baja and I totally love it there, but that is the extent of my experience in Mexico.
posted by mmmmbobo to Travel & Transportation around Mexico City, Mexico (16 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I adored Mexico City. Great food, amazing art, really vibrant, exciting vibe. It's pretty overwhelming with its size and traffic, but if you're a city person you'll probably enjoy the hell out of it.

What's the exact neighborhood you'd be staying in? Sounds like it might be Polanco, which I've heard is a bit boring.
posted by lunasol at 9:45 PM on February 19, 2013

It is nothing like a typical metropolitan experience. And I know what you mean by that, because when I went to Paris it didn't seem that different from New York to me. Mexico City is like a different planet. I presume it's because we in the U.S. share a great deal of cultural heritage with France, but Mexico still carries a lot of pre-Columbian heritage. There are lots of mefi threads about what to do and where to go, so I won't retread that territory.
posted by chrchr at 11:33 PM on February 19, 2013

I'd strongly recommend going to Mexico City if you can. Mexico is a huge and diverse country (I spent 2 months travelling there and was amazed at the differences in culture, environment, development, food in different areas) and the capital is real treat. As lunasol says it's a very vibrant place with lots of amazing art and history. The murals in particular blew my mind when I visited.

On the other hand, I live in London (so obviously like cities a lot!) and I don't think NY and Paris are similar at all really so YMMV.
posted by Dorothia at 12:58 AM on February 20, 2013

Mexico city is an amazing place. If I could find a way to move there I would. It feels like an amazing cultural experience to me, and I come from a Mexican family.
posted by vacapinta at 3:19 AM on February 20, 2013

I love mexico city and a few days there can get you a lot of bang for your buck. If possible I think the Roma/Condesa area is a great neighborhood to stay in. It's a bit trendy, but nice to wander around in.

Because the city is so spread out, my friend and I hired a driver for a couple of days to make the best use of our time and money...I think we paid about $80=$85 for each day, which ended early evening (5-6 pm if I recall correctly). Our hotel arranged a driver for the second day but for the first we just made arrangements with the driver that drove us from airport to hotel.

If you have time to do a little bit of planning before your trip, and more or less sketch out what you want to do, a few days is quite a lot in DF.

I highly recommend the Mercado del Sabado and the beautiful neighborhood that surrounds it if you're going to be there on a Saturday.
posted by newpotato at 3:35 AM on February 20, 2013

Mexico City is totally incredible. It's worth it just for the fresh juices (jugos) everywhere and the Anthropology Museum alone. I was just there a few weeks ago for the first time, and found it a great, new city. Roma and Condesa are lovely, if that's where you're staying.
posted by quadrilaterals at 4:31 AM on February 20, 2013

Do it. I've added on short visits to several business trips, based in Polanco and Centro Historico, and always really enjoyed them.

Based on your description and the proclivities of international businesses in making hotel reservations, you may be staying in Polanco, a ritzy neighborhood full of restaurants, international hotels, and shopping (and, yes, maybe a little less of what you would think of as authentic local culture and hole-in-the-wall taquerias). Chapultepec Park/Castle will be nearby, if you're in Polanco. They are convenient but probably not your top tourist priority.

But you aren't stuck in Polanco (though you should consider Dulce Patria for a fancy splurge meal)--the metro works well within the city. For your "few" days, consider: The anthropological museum is fantastic, though maybe a bit overwhelming. The various attractions in the Centro Historico can easily take up a day (many attractions are closed Monday, or one other day/week, so check ahead). And if you have a free half-day, try to get out to Teotihuacan--I flew in a day early for a work trip and arranged to be picked up from my red-eye and taken straight out to the pyramids, giving us a few cool, stress-free morning hours to take it in before the tour bus crowds.
posted by deeaytch at 4:39 AM on February 20, 2013

I would definitely do it, and I would second not only the anthropological/archaeological museum but also Teotihuacan. Very exciting urban environment, with so many colors and flavors.
posted by jetlagaddict at 4:43 AM on February 20, 2013

They're a bit further out, but Xochimilco and Coyoacon are both well worth a visit. I'll second all the other recommendations, which, Teotihuacan excepted, are are all closer to the center of the city. I spent one particularly great day visiting the Anthropological Museum, strolling through Chapultepec Park, and then wandering through Condesa and Roma, stopping in cafes and drinking mezcal.

Anyway, yeah, go if you can. Mexico City can be pretty intense, but it's also pretty awesome. Oh, and Lucha Libre is loads of fun if you get a chance to go.
posted by breakin' the law at 7:03 AM on February 20, 2013


Mexico City is fascinating. It's like a world unto itself. It's nothing like any other city I've visited. Amazing art, museums, food, people watching. Much safer and cleaner than 10 or 15 years ago. The second you land, you know you are Somewhere Else. In fact, try to land during daylight hours and get a window seat. The view on the flight is outstanding and you can see the city goes on and on and on. Visit the pyramids if you can get a driver and make a quick trip. Otherwise enjoy the city.

posted by barnone at 9:04 AM on February 20, 2013

Thanks for all the good responses. I would likely be staying in Polanco. Are the Roma and Condesa neighborhoods reasonably accessible from there? I would only have 2-3 days available in total. It sounds like I need to find a guide book and an understanding of the metro system.
posted by mmmmbobo at 9:52 AM on February 20, 2013

I did the "turibus" tour while in DF for two of the days. I highly recommend it because you can listen to the narration, avoid driving/bus/taxi craziness, and hop on/off at will.
posted by coolsara at 1:10 PM on February 20, 2013

Run, don't walk. It will be an amazing, amazing experience.

Last time I was there, we stayed in the Condesa and strolled over to Chapultepec for a ride in the boats on the lake. It was a very leisurely 40 minute walk. With 2-3 days, I would spend most of my time in that area, at the museums and in the park.
posted by looli at 1:18 PM on February 20, 2013

Oh, and maybe spend some time in the Zócalo and stroll along one of the boulevards to Bellas Artes and the park. Eat lots of paletas and go for tacos al pastor.
posted by looli at 1:24 PM on February 20, 2013

The turibus is surprisingly useful. It goes to all the main spots, and it's hop-on-hop-off as much as you like. Plus, it's above ground, and seeing the city is much more fun than the metro tunnels.

Taxis are plentiful but it can be a bit risky to pick one up on the street. Try to find one from the stands of the main sites or your hotel. Restaurants will always call one for you too.

You can also ask your hotel if they have a local driver who works by the day. It's awesome to have someone whisk you around and point out some of the neat spots. Just make sure the driver speaks English if you want some tour guide capacities.
posted by barnone at 3:49 PM on February 20, 2013

Mexico City is fantastic, I would go back in a heartbeat. I am obsessed with midcentury Mexican architecture so a trip to UNAM was high on my list. Granted, it's not everyone's cup of tea, but whatever type of art and architecture you like, you'll probably find it in Mexico City. Also it's fun to take the Metrobus up and down Insurgentes, but since you've got limited time definitely make use of the turibus (or even a private guide if you want to go to some of the outlying sights like Frida Kahlo's house and the Dolores Olmedo museum).
posted by plasticpalacealice at 5:43 PM on February 20, 2013

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