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Mexico City Guide

Mexico City Guide

To See/Do:

  • Museo Frida Kahlo (La Casa Azul) 
    • The infamous residence of painter Frida Kahlo and her husband Diego Rivera. It is now the site of the Museo Frida Kahlo, a museum dedicated to Kahlo's life and works. She was an eccentric woman, to be sure, and she suffered from poor health, especially after a bus accident. But she is considered one of the greatest artists from Mexico and has been a feminist icon of creativity for many. If you plan to visit Casa Azul, and you should if you are in Mexico City, it was fairly easy to get tickets online to avoid the line. It is in the Coyoacán neighborhood, a cute area to explore before or after your visit to the museum. 
  • Palacio de Bellas Artes  
    • Right in the center of the city is the Palacio de Bellas Artes, a theater where internationally renowned plays, ballets, operettas, and the like have been performed for over a century. If you have time and can get tickets, I would highly recommend seeing the Ballet Folklórico de México, a dance performance that showcases various styles of traditional Mexican dance, from tribal dances to more modern mariachi.
  • Teotihuacan 
    • An archaeological site of ancient cultures. The Pyramid of the Sun, the largest monument at the complex, was built over 2,000 years ago as a sacred site, possibly honoring a specific deity. One of the most fascinating things I learned is that it is still a mystery who built the city, although over time it hosted cultures from the Mayans to the Aztecs. You can read more about the site and about my tips for visiting here
  • Casa de los Azulejos 
    • A beautiful old tiled building with a Mexican chain restaurant and store inside called Sanborns. It's right in the center of town so stop and get a photo with the pretty blue tiles. 
  • Museo Soumaya 
    • A modern structure designed by Mexican architect Fernando Romero, the museum houses the private collection of Carlos Slim, over 66,000 works from 30 centuries of art. Though the collection is organized as best as the curators could, it is still a little confusing. Unless you have hours to spend with the art, the structure itself is the real attraction. 
  • Museo Jumex
    • Right across from the Museo Soumaya, the Colección Jumex is another private collection displaying more contemporary art including artists like Andy Warhol and Jeff Koons. 
  • Catedral Metropolitana de la Ciudad de México
    • The largest cathedral in the Americas. It was completed in 1813 although over the years the building has suffered significant damage and is currently sinking, along with the rest of the city, into the lakebed below. Much of Mexico City is crooked, in fact, though the residents have just adjusted as needed over the years.
  • Palacio de Correos
    • This is actually a post office, still in use today, but worth a visit for its beautiful gold staircase and dome inside and the eclectic mix of architectural styles both inside and out. 
  • Castillo de Chapultepec
    • The beautiful structure has been the home of the president, an observatory, a military academy, and more over the years and is now a must-do since the castle is a viewpoint over the entire city and is a national history museum to learn more about Mexico.  
  • Casa Luis Barragán
    • A former home of the contemporary architect, Luis Barragán. It's a colorful and modern house that can make for some really interesting photos. 

To Eat:

  • Azul Restaurantes
    • There are several locations of this popular restaurant each serving the same menu. During my trip we ate at two of them, Azul Historico and Azul Condesa, both of which had great courtyards with a bright atmosphere and really delicious food. I was also told they have great brunch. 
  • Churreria El Moro
    • The infamous churreria, they make what are probably the best churros I have ever eaten. I got mine with cajeta, a caramel dipping sauce, and devoured them so quickly I made myself sick. Then I went back the next day and did it again. So worth it. 
  • Cielito Querido Cafe
    • Dubbed "the Starbucks of Mexico" by my friend Carla, it's just a great reliable coffee shop and cafe to stop into for a drink and snack wherever you see one. 
  • Gin Gin 
    • The ambiance was so trendy at this garden bar and though it was raining and the roof was covered, there was still a vibe with palm plants and vines on the walls. Surprise surprise that the drink of choice here is served with gin, but since I've never liked the stuff I stuck with my usual rum cocktails and was not disappointed. We all split some food like a margherita pizza and some salad and it was delicious, then we spent hours sipping our drinks and chatting amongst the group.
  • Mercado Roma
    • This place feels very hip--it's essentially an amalgamation of different food vendors in the market and not just Mexican cuisine, either, but everything from French pastries to sushi. It's an easy place to stop and find a bite to eat because chances are you'll find something good no matter what you're in the mood for. 

Neighborhood Guide:

  • Polanco
    • A very modern part of the city, Polanco was one of my favorite neighborhoods. It's where many of the modern museums are like Soumaya and Jimex, as well as full of world-class restaurants, cute boutiques and cafes, and tons of great places to shop. It's full of history and culture, but with a bit more of an up-to-date vibe that attracts the wealthiest of the city. It is sometimes called the "Beverly Hills of Mexico City." 
  • Condesa
    • One of the most famous and fashionable neighborhoods, Condesa is known for cute boutiques, hip nightlife, and its tree-lined streets, this charming area is a great place to explore not far from El Centro. 
  • La Roma
    • The hip and edgy cousin to Condesa's posher vibes, La Roma is full of indie boutiques and vintage stores, locally-sourced coffee houses and eclectic al fresco restaurants. To put it in New Yorker terms, it's a bit like the Williamsburg of Mexico City. 
  • El Centro Historico
    • Definitely the most touristy area of the city, the historic center is akin in my mind to Times Square in New York City or Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco. Though several of the top sights in the city are located here, like the cathedral and the Palacio de Bellas Artes, so are most of the tourists and a whole gaggle of people milling about. There is a lot of charm and history there too despite the development and you can definitely find some cute spots by just wandering around. 
  • Coyoacán
    • A little further south from the center of town, this is where you'll find colorful homes, vibrant markets, colonial churches, and the cute cobblestone streets that are more reminiscent of its original status as a village suburb of Mexico City. It's oozing residential charm and definitely worth exploring. 
  • Juárez
    • Full of lots of new developments popping up like cool bars and unique shops, the area above Paseo de la Reforma is certainly up and coming for a younger, cooler crowd. 

Tips:

  • Everyone drives in Mexico City and though there are buses and a metro system, they are not known to be very safe. If you don't have Uber, consider downloading it beforehand, otherwise you will need to take taxis everywhere. 
  • Here some tips about tips--you do not need to tip taxis as the cost is all-inclusive and a tip of around 10-15 percent is customary at restaurants and bars. 
  • Mexicans refer to Mexico City as "DF" which is short for Distrito Federal. 
  • You should not drink the tap water and be sparing when using it to brush your teeth, wash your face, and shower. However note that by law every restaurant and hotel must serve filtered water, so don't stress about it then. 

 

**To make life easier when you're traveling, copy this custom Google map to your account, where you will be able to add your own points of interest and even download the map to your phone for offline use! 


 
The Top Tier

The Top Tier

Romp Around Downtown

Romp Around Downtown