Mexico City, or CDMX, is a mega city. With a population of over 25 million and an altitude of 2400 metres, Mexico City is massive, magnetic and cosmopolitan. You do need to keep an eye on your personal safety, but CDMX is packed with museums and sights. Make sure you book a few days here on any trip to Mexico. Here's how we filled our 3 days. Teotihuacan is worth a whole day, as is Xochimilco if you are there at the weekends.
The Metropolitan Cathedral:
The Metropolitan Cathedral is one of the city’s iconic structures and the oldest cathedral in the Americas. It’s monumental and massive and dominates the equally large Zocalo. It dates back to 1573 and was built on ancient pre-Hispanic monuments. You can’t miss the elaborately carved Altar de Perdón, but do go round the back for the gilded 18th-century Altar de los Reyes which is the highlight.
Tip – don’t miss the adjoining Templo Mayor, the remains of the main Aztec temple in Tenochtitlan – the ancient Mexico City.
Teotihuacan, one hour from Mexico City, is vast and impressive and one of Mexico’s top archeological sites. It’s dominated by: the astonishing Pyramid of the Moon – which has the best view from the top; and the iconic Pyramid of the Sun – dating back to 100 AD and a massive 70 metres high. The ancient pre-Columbian site, is accessed by the dramatic Causeway of the Dead lined with mini pyramid temples and plazas. Don’t miss: the roofed and frescoed Palace of the Quetzal Butterfly; the Palace of the Jaguars for stunning carvings and the on site Museum.
Tip – don’t underestimate the size of the site. Go early to avoid the heat (and tourists). There is no shade and you will probably walk at least 4 kilometres at altitude.
The floating gardens of Xochimilco are unmissable at the weekends. Join the locals and rent a vividly painted boat on the network of ancient canals. You will be serenaded by Mariachis in the carnival atmosphere as you drift pass colourful markets and persistent vendors in canoes.
Tip – spend some time wandering the streets of Xochimilco Town for flower and fruit markets and beautiful garden centres.
Museo Nacional de Antropologia:
The Anthropological Museum houses the world’s largest collection of ancient Mexican art in 23 impressive rooms. The highlights are the Sun Stone (an Aztec Calendar), the recreation of Pakal’s tomb and the exquisite jade mask of the Zapotec Bat God.
Tip – the whole museum is worth visiting, but if you’re short on time concentrate on the ground floor – the Oaxaca and Maya rooms in particular.
Casa de los Azulejos:
Casa de los Azulejos – House of Tiles – is an astonishing 18th-century Baroque palace. It’s now a branch of the cafe chain/department store Sanborns, but the beautiful architecture inside and out has been retained. The facade is coated in ornate, blue and white tiles from Puebla. Inside there’s murals, balconies, moorish fountains and a central courtyard which is home to the flagship cafe.
Tip – try and have a drink or a meal at the cafe to absorb the traditional splendour.