A Couchsurfer’s Guide to… Mexico City

CDMX Skyline By Marianna Ianovska/shutterstock

Best street food! 
If you’re looking for an authentic taco stand that’s always busy with lots of options head to El Rey del Taco in Roma Norte. Enjoy tacos, quesadillas, tortas, alhambras, or gringas with almost ten different types of meat options. When you’ve had your fill head just two blocks down the street to for some of Mexico City’s best cerveza artesanal at Falling Piano Brewing.  If you’re looking for vegan pastor-style tacos head to the popular Por Siempre Vegana also on Calle Coahuila. 

Street tacos By Bran M/shutterstock

Best breakfast in town!
If you’re looking for an authentic breakfast head to any of the neighborhood mercados around town such as Mercado de Coyoacán or Mercado Medellin in Roma.
If you’re looking for a great place with a view and amazing breakfast you can go to the terrace at Don Toribio in Centro Histórico. Very traditional breakfast. Another typical breakfast is “Torta de Chilaquiles” at the intersection of Alfonso Reyes and Av Tamaulipas; it’s typical Mexican street food typical. You might find a long waiting line but it’s worth it.

One museum not to miss!
If you’re looking for some of the best museums in the city head to Chapultepec Park. The Anthropology Museum is the crown jewel of the city’s 150+ museums and has 12 halls exhibiting many of the ancient civilizations of Mexico up until today.  Also, be sure to check out the Castillo de Chapultepec, the only castle from which a monarch (Maximilliano) has ruled in the Americas. Finally, check out Los Pinos, the former presidential residence that the current president refuses to live in because it’s too opulent. He claims it belongs to the Mexican people and has opened it to the public for free. At Coyoacán you can visit the Frida Kahlo museum, AKA “La casa Azul”. While being in the south, you can go to Anahuacalli Museum (a museum by Diego Rivera).

La Casa Azul (Frida Kahlo’s house) By Anton_Ivanov/shutterstock

Best place to grab a drink!
Check out Bosforo a discreet hole-in-the-wall bar downtown not far from the Alameda Central. From the street it’s a nondescript entryway with a big red curtain covering the doorway.  Pull back the curtain and you’ll find a bustling mezcal bar with a lively crowd swaying to the music, where you can try more than ten different types of mezcal. You’ll find it just to the right of La Vitrina on Calle Luis Moya downtown.

Where to sweat!
Viveros de Coyoacán is an excellent place to go for a run or enjoy a nice afternoon in one of the larger green spaces in the city. It’s a combination of a tree nursery and public park and has many well landscaped trails to get away from the concrete jungle of the city.

Running in Chapultepec 2nd section is also a good idea; there is a track called “El Sope” where you can run in a 2k track or also go for a run through all the park and have a great view of the city.

Chapultepec Park (with the castle in the background) By Suriel Ramzal/shutterstock

A treat-yourself-meal!
If you’re looking for an excellent upmarket Mexican meal in a beautiful building in the Centro Historico look no further than Azul Historico. It’s known for highlighting specialties from various states and regions in Mexico. The adventurous eater might enjoy starting off with the Oaxacan speciality Guacamole con Chapulines. Then enjoy one of the platos fuertes for the main course.

Historic Moment!
Don’t forget to check out the Zocalo, the principal square in the city and the third largest in the world (after the Red Square and Tiananmen Square). In the Zocalo metro station (Blue, Line 2) you can find replicas of the square under the rule of the Aztecs in 1524, just after independence from the Spanish in 1824, and also in 1900. Also be sure to check out the Templo Mayor an archaeological treasure trove of artifacts from the main pyramid that stood on the square at the height of the Aztec Empire.

Metropolitan Cathedral of Mexico City in Zocalo Square By marketa1982/shutterstock

Cutest Cafe!
You can go to the top of Sanborns building in front of Bellas Artes; apart from taking some coffee, you can take a great picture of Bellas Artes. There are also several cafes at Condesa, you could go to Rococo Cafe near Parque España; or Bocca, a nice cafe in Roma where you’ll find delicious desserts. The cafe at Biblioteca Porrúa downtown will also be a good choice.

Best day-trip out of town!
The Pyramids of Teotihuacan and the pyramid on top of a mountain in Tepoztlan are both excellent choices for amazing places to check out within a couple hours of the city. Teotihuacan can be reached by bus from the city and is one of the most famous temple complexes in the world. Be sure not to mix it with the similarly named Tepozotlán, which is also a great day-trip.

View of Teotihuacan and Pyramid of the Sun By Vadim Petrakov/shutterstock

The perfect picture!
Go early on a clear day and get an excellent picture of Paseo de Reforma from Chapultepec Castle. Reforma was designed to imitate the Champ de Elysee in Paris to connect the castle to the Centro Historico. It’s now home to the majority of Mexico City’s skyscrapers. Another option for an amazing picture inside a building head to the architectural marvel that is Biblioteca Vasconcelos. You can also take an amazing picture from the top of the Torre Latino. You could go to the restaurant or bar on top of the building if you prefer to get a drink instead of doing the tourist sightseeing.

One experience not to miss!
Go on a weekend to the canals of Xochimilco, to either the Cuemanco or Nativitas embarcadero. For five hundred pesos you can rent a Trajinera as you explore the way ancient canals that used to define the city with a michelada in hand and listening to some Mariachi music. Most of the ancient lake has been gradually filled in by the city over the last five hundred years. 

Boats on the canals of Xochimilco By BoPhotoAdventures/shutterstock

A tourist trap to avoid!
At Zocalo there’s a street where you can find several terraced restaurants that might not get you the best view of the Zocalo nor great food and most likely will be a bit overpriced, particularly on the pedestrian mall of Calle Francisco I. Madera. If you want to go to a terrace with a great view of Templo Mayor you can go to Biblioteca Porrúa, where at the top of the building you can find a nice restaurant not so crowded and where you can enjoy just a nice cup of coffee for a decent price.

Anything else to add….
Mexico City is within a one to four hour flight of the entire country. It’s an ideal time to fly in Mexico and take advantage of the competition of the three low cost airlines (Interjet, Volaris, and VivaAerobus). It’s also within a seven hour bus ride of all of central Mexico. Popular trips beyond the city include the obvious Guanajuato, Querétaro, Puebla, and Oaxaca.  However, more underrated destinations include Taxco, Orizaba, Tolantong, Peña de Bernal, Zacatecas, Patzcuaro and Janitzio.

Oaxaca By Bill Perry

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