Mexico is one of the most-visited countries in the world. And thanks to tourism investments that have improved roads and airports, a thriving culinary scene and a swell of cultural happenings, its capital, Mexico City, is having a moment. From museums to restaurants to ancient artifacts, here’s where to go in the sprawling, colorful metropolis.
WHERE TO GO
Mexico City has more than 150 museums — second only to Paris by some counts. For two options, head to the ever-popular Museo Frida Kahlo (admission 120-140 pesos; Londres 247, museofridakahlo.org.mx), which catalogs artist Frida Kahlo’s belongings and crafts in her former bright blue hacienda, and Museo Soumaya at Plaza Loreto (FREE admission Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra 303, museosoumaya.com.mx), home to the broad collection of Carlos Slim Helú, one of the world’s richest men. The 150-foot-tall aluminum-covered building displays thousands of pieces of art by a wide scope of names, from Da Vinci to Dali to Rodin (“The Thinker” dwells here).
Ambitious aesthetes can find more museums at Chapultepec Park — while others may opt for the park, aka Bosque de Chapultepec, itself. At more than 1,600 acres, it’s one of the largest city parks worldwide (and about twice the size of Central Park). Locals and visitors mingle in its three sections, picnic on green spaces or stroll quiet pathways flanked by flora and monuments.
In Mexico City’s central historic district, shops and restaurants branch out from Zócalo plaza, where you can see remnants of an ancient Aztec temple, Templo Mayor. Tour the Museo del Templo Mayor, or skip the entrance fee and get a bird’s-eye view of the site from the adjacent rooftop lounge, El Mayor (República de Argentina 17, elmayor.com.mx).
And don’t leave without taking in a Lucha Libre match, a sporting event in which wrestlers wear colorful masks and perform showy knockout maneuvers in front of cheering crowds (prices and dates vary; cmll.com).
WHERE TO EAT
A blend of high and low dining makes Mexico City one of the most exciting places to eat in Latin America, as local street food vendors tout worthy tacos alongside big-name restaurants.
One of those names is Enrique Olvera. It may be a familiar one — his first international restaurant, Cosme, opened two years ago in Manhattan to much acclaim. His Mexico City restaurant Pujol (Calle Francisco Petrarca 254) is a bucket-list experience, often rated as one of the world’s best restaurants.
In the hip Roma Norte neighborhood, the sleek Mercado Roma (Calle Querétaro 225, mercadoroma.com) creates casual yet upmarket foods like squid-stuffed sandwiches and tacos.
If you’re chasing traditional cuisine, visit El Cardenal (Palma 23, restauranteelcardenal.com) during lunch for the housemade corn tortillas and mole sauces alongside lesser-known items like escamoles al epazote — ant eggs sautéed in butter and herbs (if you’re squeamish, sip tequila or mezcal while you’re at it).
For dessert, Churrería El Moro (Eje Central Lázaro Cárdenas 42, elmoro.mx) is Mexico City’s sweetest binge. Locals order piles of hot churros — three per person appears to be the standard — with coffee at this 80-plus-year-old institution.
WHERE TO STAY
For accommodations in the convenient historic center, try one of the 17 rooms in the Downtown Mexico (Isabel La Catolica 30, 866-978-7020, downtownmexico.com), inside a palace dating back to the 17th century. Its chic rooftop pool is one of the better spots to sip mezcal.
In the ritzy Polanco neighborhood, W Mexico City (Campos Eliseos 252, wmexicocity.com) reigns amidst a handful of hotels. After a massive renovation, the hotel now vibes with the nearby nightclubs.