Newsflash: Mexico City is Trendy, Cheap and Totally Worth Visiting

Let’s just cut to the chase – Mexico City is completely worth visiting.

However, when I told my friends I had booked a ticket, their general reaction was, “WHY would you want to go to Mexico City? You’re going to get kidnapped.”

Most Americans think of Mexico City as a huge, polluted sprawl. Okay yes, it is huge and polluted. But it also has world-class museums, quaint, leafy neighborhoods and unbelievably good food.

Mexico City was once the capital of New Spain – how could it not be dripping in history and culture?

Is Mexico City worth visiting? 6 reasons why it completely is

I spent two and a half days in Mexico City and somehow it felt like a week. I took a hot air balloon over ancient ruins, ate many indulgent meals, attended a fancy art party and danced until dawn.

Which is why I wanted to put together a list of reasons to love Mexico City. Because even in the short time I spent there, I found so many things to love about it.

Here are six reasons you should definitely visit Mexico City.

Fancy, Historic Hotels for a Bargain

In Mexico City, you can stay at beautiful hotels for a fraction of what they’d cost in the US.

My dad and I stayed at the Gran Hotel Ciudad de México, a historic hotel built in 1899. It reminded me of Titanic; I loved its caged elevators, grand stairway and spacious rooms. But my favorite feature was its insanely intricate Art Deco stained glass ceiling. Isn’t she a beaut?

Is Mexico City worth visiting? 6 reasons why it completely is

Is Mexico City worth visiting? 6 reasons why it completely is

Hot Air Ballooning over the Teotihuacán Pyramids at Sunrise

Teotihuacán is the most visited archeological site in Mexico, and for good reason – it’s incredible.

Founded in around 100 BC, Teotihuacán was one of the largest cities of the ancient world. It’s comprised of three main ruins: the Moon Pyramid, Sun Pyramid and Temple of Quetzalcoatl.

Hot air ballooning over it at sunrise was one for the books. We soared over the pyramids, able to see the layout the Teotihuacanos envisioned two thousand years ago. I was particularly amazed by the sheer size of the Sun Temple, the third largest pyramid in the world.

Is Mexico City worth visiting? 6 reasons why it completely is

World-class Museums

The only museum I had time to visit was the National Museum of Anthropology – thankfully, it was amazing. The museum contains an extraordinary collection of artifacts from all of Mexico’s pre-Colombian civilizations.

Mexico City has a bevy of other amazing museums to choose from as well: the Museo del Templo Mayor, Frida Kahlo Museum, the Diego Rivera Mural Museum and Palacio de Bellas Artes. Mexico City even has a Caricature Museum and Graphic Art Museum, so there’s bound to be something to strike your fancy.

Is Mexico City worth visiting? 6 reasons why it completely is

Roma, Mexico City’s Bohemian Neighborhood

Is Mexico City worth visiting? 6 reasons why it completely is

Out of everywhere I visited in Mexico City, Roma is the place where I would most like to live.

Once the residence of Jewish immigrants and the European elite, Roma is a leafy neighborhood with wide boulevards, fountains and beautiful plazas. It’s the kind of neighborhood that’s perfect for strolling. I especially loved its architecture, which ranged from neo-classical to art nouveau.

I took a food tour there with Sabores México (review here!), and we visited two craft breweries, an artisanal coffee shop, a Oaxcan restaurant and a mezcal distillery. My kind of neighborhood.

Is Mexico City worth visiting? 6 reasons why it completely is

Fine Dining for (Relatively) Cheap

In Mexico City, you can dine at some of the best restaurants in the world for relatively cheap.

Pujol, heralded as one of the top restaurants in the world, offers a seven-course tasting menu for $90 a person including tax. That’s a bargain in fine dining.

My favorite restaurant of the trip was Azul Histórico. Azul Histórico specializes in traditional Mexican food, and is located in the courtyard of a beautiful, historic home. It’s definitely touristy, but food was excellent. The chilaquiles in particular were life-changingly good.

Amazing Street Food

But, you of course don’t have to pay big money to eat well in Mexico City. You can find authentic street food from all over Mexico – everything from Oaxacan tlayudas and Veracruz-style tamales.

Is Mexico City worth visiting? 6 reasons why it completely is
Tacos we procured from a taco truck after leaving a club – sooo good.

The downsides

The biggest complaint I have about Mexico City is that the downtown smelled strongly of pee. And I mean, STRONGLY. But that may be because the pope was in town during my visit so the downtown was very crowded.

Is Mexico City worth visiting? 6 reasons why it completely is

But is Mexico City dangerous?

Okay, it’s not Toronto, but if you exercise the same precautions you would in any city you should be fine.

As in most of Latin America, petty theft is relatively common. Case in point – my dad was almost pickpocketed while we were riding the subway. A group of around five men and women started shoving us into the train when the doors opened. I started yelling at them, while one guy tried to grab my dad’s wallet. As the doors were closing, all five of them jumped off the train back to the platform.

Frankly I wouldn’t recommend take the subway anyway if you’re only in Mexico City a short time – it wasn’t a pleasant experience beyond the near pickpocketing.

Taxis can also be sketchy, and it’s better to take Ubers than taxis – they’re both cheaper and safer.

Important info:

Three nights in Mexico city was perfect. I’d recommend taking off Friday and Monday, and fly Friday morning, and return Monday morning.

We absolutely loved staying at the Gran Hotel Ciudad de México. Rates start at $180 a night. For more hotels in Mexico City, check out rates here.

Mexico City taxis can be VERY sketchy, so I would 100% take Ubers. If you’re new to Uber, get $20 off your first ride here.

Our private hot air balloon ride over the Teotihuacán pyramids was with Fly Volare and cost $180 per person. See my full review here. if you don’t have a few hundred dollars to spend on hot air ballooning, Teotihuacán is more than worth a visit regardless.

Admission to National Museum of Anthropology costs $3.50 per person. There’s a lot to see -allow for at least 4-5 hours.

Our food tour was with Sabores México and cost $50 per person. See my full review here.

Make sure to purchase travel insurance before your trip to Mexico City. I’ve used World Nomads for years and highly recommend it.

Have you been to the DF? In your opinion is Mexico City worth visiting?

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About Ashley Fleckenstein

Ashley is a travel and lifestyle blogger who lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Since college she has au paired in Paris, backpacked the world solo, and lived in Uganda. Her work has been featured by Buzzfeed, Forbes, TripAdvisor, and Glamour Magazine.

33 thoughts on “Newsflash: Mexico City is Trendy, Cheap and Totally Worth Visiting”

  1. Your post couldn’t come at a better time! I just got here, and will be staying for 7 days!

    Great recommendations, excited to try the restaurants!

  2. Ashley, It helps if you speak Spanish in Mexico. If you want urban adventure, I can bring to you to Spanish Harlem or Jackson Heights in NYC the next time you are here for a few hours. NYC tap water is also safer than MC tap water. ;)

  3. So grateful for this post! I’ve been here for a week and I’m here for another four because I love it so much. The food, the museums, the parks, the monuments, the markets….I love everything except the pee haha. :) Looking forward to the Sabores Mexico post! I’ll have to look into that.

  4. i definitely agree that mexico city is HIGHLY underrated. i havent been in a few years and must get myself back there! they had a quirky cafe culture and an affinity for craft beer which i also loved.

    the smell of pee is a struggle for me on the other hand. hopefully the smell subsides by the next time i make it there haha!

  5. What a beautiful and insightful post about D.F. :) and thank you so much for writing it! I’ve never been before and am moving to Roma in June so that’s amazing to hear you liked the neighborhood. I totally agree: Gran Hotel Ciudad de México = stunning! In researching all things Mexico City, it’s always been my favorite hotel. Sounds like an amazing experience you had traveling there :) Keep up the EXCELLENT blogging! I’m such a fan! :)

  6. I’ve wanted to visit D.F. for the longest time but I honestly don’t know much about it apart from the Zócalo, cathedrals, and pre-Columbian ruins outside of town. I had no idea there were such lovely neighborhoods like Roma in the capital! Looking forward to reading your write-ups of your time in Mexico in the weeks to come.

  7. Mexico City sounds great – I have never been, but I have been to many other places in central amercia which I loved. I stayed in downtown Cancun for a week so I could do a PADI course about 8 years ago and loved the mexican food!

  8. So glad you loved it! I visited twice when I was living in Cuernavaca and always had a fabulous time. It’s like any other sprawling, mega metropolis but just gets lumped into the whole, Mexico is dangerous media tag line.

    I am so envious of your hot air balloon experience over Teotihuacan! I only visited on foot :)

    And you must make it to Coyacan if you return. Frida Kahlo’s house is just so interesting to visit. I’m sure comparable to Monet’s Giverny!

  9. Mexico City has been at the top of my travel list and your post has just inspired me even more. I definitely would like to take a food tour with Sabores Mexico, as I’ve heard many good reviews!

  10. Hey Ashley! Love your Blog! I would really like to feature a link to this post about Mexico City on a new travel website I am getting ready to launch – would you be interested?

  11. Hi Ashley, Thank you so much for your wonderful travelog. I have just booked a trip to MXC and the first thing my 19 yr old daughter said was, why? it’s not safe! I have been scouring articles on MXC and talked to a few that visited and they all loved it. I’ve made reservations at Pujol too! We are staying in the Roma neighborhood at a Villa Condesa. Looks fabulous.

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