About Mexico City
Mexico City, rated #1 of 52 Top cities to go in the world by the New York Times (view article here), is a fascinating capital that beguiles its visitors with endless options. One of the largest metropolitan areas in the world, with 16 boroughs and more than 300 neighborhoods, it might seem a bit overwhelming to the first-time visitor, though it doesn’t have to be. Many of the most visited tourist attractions in Mexico City are concentrated in the historic center, including the Plaza de la Constitucion or Zocalo, the National Palace, Metropolitan Cathedral, Templo Mayor, Palace of Fine Arts and Alameda Park. A few blocks north of the Palace of Fine Arts, Plaza Garibaldi is one of the best places in Mexico City to hear live mariachi music.
Located west of the historic center, the Plaza de la Republica is home to the newly refurbished Revolution Monument and National Museum. Chapultepec Park, the largest in Mexico City, is divided into three sections and home to several of capital’s top tourist attractions, including Chapultepec Castle, the Modern Art Museum and the National Museum of Anthropology. Keep in mind that, with a few exceptions, most museums and archaeological sites in Mexico City are closed on Mondays.
You’ll also want to explore the neighborhoods of Zona Rosa, Roma, Condesa, Coyoacan and San Angel. Home to lovely parks, plazas, shops, markets, cafes and some of the top tourist attractions in Mexico City, these artsy neighborhoods are especially popular among visitors to the city and foreign residents. Nearby, in the trendy posh neighborhood of Polanco you’ll find some of Mexico City’s top nightspots and chic restaurants.
Further south, the University City campus of Mexico’s National Autonomous University is known for its modern architecture and impressive murals that are the work of some of Mexico’s top artists. The University Cultural Center hosts a variety of events and performances.
Once the ancient Aztec city of Tenochtitlan, Mexico City was originally constructed in the Valley of Mexico over the ancient Lake Texcoco. The Aztecs built an intricate network of canals to navigate the city. After the arrival of the Spanish in 1519, most of the Aztec structures and canals were destroyed and replaced with modern roads and buildings.
History buffs will find the best remaining examples of ancient Aztec city planning in the southern Xochimilco borough of Mexico City and north of the city at the Teotihuacán archaeological site. In Xochimilco you can hire a colorful trajinera (wooden boat) to tour the canals and gardens.
Plan a day trip to the ancient Aztec pyramids at Teotihuacán, located 50km (31 miles) northeast of the city.
Myths of Violence in Mexico City: Is it Safe to Travel There?
Mexico City is a bustling metropolis that attracts millions of visitors from across the world every year. The city is home to Frida Kahlo’s restored house, the Floating Gardens of Xochimilco, the prestigious Souymaya Museum, and dozens of other historic cultural sites. It is no wonder that it has has been ranked the number one travel destination for 2016 by The New York Times. Yet, through an American lens, the entire nation of Mexico is synonymous with drugs, murder, and corruption.
Mexico City, just like any other urban center, is not a paragon of virtue and safety, but it is also not the national hub of organized crime and violence many think. Mexico City is not included in the U.S. State Department’s Travel Warning for Mexico and is not considered to be unusually dangerous for tourists either by global standards or by domestic standards. In fact, Acapulco, the famous resort city with idyllic beaches and futuristic high rises, is the most dangerous city in the country. [READ MORE]
Mexico City Myths Debunked
“But isn’t it dangerous?”
Without fail, this is one of the first questions friends and family members will ask when you say “Mexico City” and “wonderful vacation” in the same sentence. The answer, to put it briefly, is no. The longer version is that the most real dangers facing tourists in the Condesa neighborhood, for instance, include getting diabetes from the high saturation of cupcake shops and burning your tongue on a street corner quesadilla—the scent of griddled cheese is just too tempting to wait that extra second.
That’s probably not what your mother was imagining, though.
But the fact is, Mexico City doesn’t even make the top 50 in the world rankings of cities with the highest homicide rates—a list including the likes of New Orleans, Detroit, Baltimore and St. Louis. That’s not to say flashing wads of cash outside a Lucha Libre fight at the Arena Mexico comes highly recommended, or that you should guzzle tap water when the altitude addles you. However, there’s no more reason to question the safety of a trip to Mexico City than to worry about one to Washington D.C., Philadelphia, Chicago, Boston, Dallas or Miami. [READ MORE]