Mexico City – 5 reasons to visit

Mexico City

Why to visit Mexico City? CDMX (Cuidad de Mexico) is one of the biggest cities in the world. With more than 20 million people living here it seems overwhelming. Indeed, when flying from Europe at night, you can see the lights of the city 1,5 hours before landing. It is really, really big.

Due to its size, the Mexican Mafia popping in the news, and series, the city has quite a reputation. Before visiting I thought that it is loud, dangerous, dirty, and crowded. I bet that a lot of people have this image in their heads when they think of Mexico City. But I couldn’t have been more wrong! It was love at first sight, and here is why.

The People

In Mexico, people are just nice. I know that it sounds cheesy, but they are smiling at you all the time. Not because they want to sell you something, not because they want to get close to you and rob you. Just because they are nice! They seem happy. They randomly stand up and dance in a restaurant or in the street, just because there is salsa music playing. They have this simple joy of life that we, Europeans, always running to work/gym/whatever meeting we have planned, forgot. Everyone can tell that you are a tourist. It is weird at the beginning, because everyone is looking at you, but I quickly learned to enjoy it. I was walking around the city with a big smile saying “Hola!” to everyone. And you should too! To me, this is almost the most important reason why to visit Mexico City.

Mariachi band in Mexico City
Mariachi band in Plaza Garibaldi

The Food

I don’t have to introduce the Mexican cuisine. It is so good that probably almost every country in the world has a Mexican restaurant. Although, the food here is SO MUCH different from what we can eat in Europe. The meat just melts in your mouth, the salsa is so spicy yet has so much flavor that you can’t help yourself but to add some more, the tortillas are freshly baked to lure you to the taco stand. This irresistible smell of tortilla is to me the smell of Mexico, and the fresh tortilla is what truly makes a meal. Mexico City has an abundance of street food stalls, small restaurants, and a great choice for fine dining. Of course, it is a capital city of 20 million people, you can find all kinds of international restaurants here as well.

Market in Mexico
Food stand in a market in Xoximilco

The Art

CDMX is the most known for the work of Diego Rivera. He was, and still is, one of the most well-known artists in the country. His murals can be found on multiple buildings around the city. You can visit his studio and of course, a Diego Rivera Mural Museum. If you don’t know Diego, you know his wife for sure. Frida Kahlo lived and worked in the Coyoacan neighborhood of Mexico City (at the time its was a village outside of the city). Fridas work can be seen in many museums, but the most well known is the Frida Kahlo Museum in Coyoacan.

Besides well known Diego and Frida, the city has a big number of incredible Museums to offer. Read this post about Must-see Museums in the city. Local Culture Centers, that you can find in every neighborhood are a great source of cultural activities. They offer pottery classes, concerts, street art ateliers, meetups with the locals… it will all be in Spanish, so if you speak it, check out their offer, there is something happening every day.

Mural Diego Rivera
Diego Rivera Mural featuring Frida Kahlo with Socialist workers

Check out this post about the must-see museums in the city.

The History

Mexico City was built on a Lake (Lago Texcoco) by the Azteks (initially called Mexicas). If you travel to the south, to Xoximilco you can still enjoy a boat ride around the canals of the old city. The Mexicas believed that the gods will give them a sign of indication where and when the city should be established. The sign was a beautiful eagle, eating a snake sitting on a cactus. This is today the symbol and the flag of Mexico. The city was built by the Mexicas in 1325 A.D. The ruins of the old city are still preserved and can be seen in the very center od CDMX, right next to the Cathedral.

Teotihuacan
Pyramid complex in Teotihuacan

When the Spanish explorer Hernan Cortez came to the coast of Mexico, the Aztecs thought that he is a god Quetzalcoatl (the feathered snake) returning to rule the nation. Therefore the beginnings of the Spanish colonization were pretty peacefully, as the Spaniards were well received and covered with gold by the locals. I am not going to cover the full history of Mexico City here, but it is really interesting, full of twists and turns and you can almost touch it while visiting.

Safety

The city is really safe. You need to exercise common sense, as always, but in general it isn’t as dangerous as the media can present it. The metro is clean and fast. There is a part of the train only for women, so if you are a solo women traveler, you might feel better in those. Don’t walk alone into shady streets and take a taxi at night and nothing will happen to you. Uber is operational here and the prices are ridiculously low.


Now you know why to visit Mexico City. It is usually only a quick stop on the way to Oaxaca or Yucatan, but I would recommend staying for at least a week to explore what this amazing city has to offer. Here are some unusual things to do in Mexico City.

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