Mexico City's rich cultural landscape has been a big draw for travellers from across the globe for long now, but the highland capital has so much more to offer! The historic Aztecs sites dating back to over 8000 years ago, a mesmerising cityscape, a uniquely free-spirited vibe and an effervescence for local as well as global cuisines are things that come to mind almost instantaneously; but even that list isn't exhaustive as there's simply too many layers to the fabric that makes up this appealing vacation prospect!
The Downtown part of Mexico City packs several of the local attractions in a rather compact space; districts and sub-districts have all developed a unique vibe of their own and draw corresponding crowds. Choosing your ideal location for a vacation then becomes a significant task, and that's where we step in. Here, we have listed some of the best neighbourhoods of Mexico City and what they might have in store for you traveller!
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The beating heart of Mexico City, Centro Historico is the site of Aztec Empire's erstwhile capital and the place where the foundation for the modern city was laid. Naturally, it is here that you find some of the most significant landmarks of the region. Be it the majestic facade of the Metropolitan Cathedral, the iconic ombre coloured dome of the Palacio de Bellas Artes or the ruins around the Templo Mayor, there's so much that you'd want to take in during your stay in the neighborhood.
A good place to start your city tours from would be the central public square of Zócalo, a vast paved area around which you shall find many of the previously discussed landmarks. And to add to all of that, Centro Historico has imbibed the modern elements of Mexico City in its quarters just as well. You are bound to find murals and street art at about every turn, while dedicated streets are known to be home for vendors and taquerias that serve the best local delights!
Centro Historico ranks at the top in terms of connectivity; by virtue of being the cultural capital of the city of sorts, it has easy access from almost all other parts of the city. As an aside, you should definitely spare an evening from your schedule to climb atop the Torre Latinoamericana for city viewings in the backdrop of a miraculous-seeming sunset.
And as you begin heading westward, you will come face to face with the artistic side of the city. And the first neighborhood from this part of the city to make the list is the beautiful San Rafael. Dubbed as the "Broadway of Mexico", it has been host for many great musical and theatre performances over the years. Head over to one of the many venues that continue to stage such productions or simply dwell in the past glory at the likes of Cine Opera and Teatro Sergio Magaña.
Art galleries in the neighborhood are almost as immersive as the performing arts venues and should not be missed at any cost! The Espectro Electromagnetico, Taller Lu’um, El Eco Museum and Galeria Hilario Galguera are among the most popular, but you can find an interesting studio or exhibition at just about every turn. Top it all off with evening coffee and a nice book, where you can socialise with young artists who crowd the homely bistros and cozy coffee shops.
San Rafael's outdoors ensure that it holds the distinction of being the most walkable parts of the city, so you will not have any trouble commuting from one part of the neighborhood to the other. You can also easily hail a taxi to drive you to other parts of the city. Try and look for a nice boutique hotel for the best intimate experience in the neighborhood!
The neighborhood of Doctores shares its artistic inclinations with its predecessor, but does go one step forward in celebrating the free spirited and boho side of the city. The vibrant neighborhood, located just south of Centro Historico is home to the Museo de Juguete Antiguo Mexico and the Centro de la Imagen. The former is an especially popular visiting spot owing to its vast collection of traditional Mexican toys and impressive exhibits, as well as the ever-changing art that dons the nearby streets.
Talking of which, Doctores did develop a reputation for being the go-to place for street artists and local talent to showcase their work. The spirit is best showcased around in the colourful cityscape around the small park of Artes Graficas in the southern part of the neighborhood. You will find eye-catching work, both from internationally renowned names and local artists who work round the clock to keep the walls freshly painted almost throughout the year.
Doctores is a stone's throw from Centro Historico, making it fairly easy to access through most means of public transport. The neighborhood has a very local and intimate vibe, so you might want to look for a nice homestay during your stay. Eateries and restaurants are similarly small-scale and will offer some of the best home cooked meals in all of Mexico City!
La Condesa, next on our list is the one neighborhood that goes the extra mile to establish itself as the most well-rounded in terms of appeal. The rather compact neighborhood packs a fashionable cityscape and a chic vibe; streets in La Condesa are lined with leafy trees that hide the old-world mansions and stately homes - a textbook European setting. The things that do make La Condesa uniquely Mexican then are its diverse young crowds and artsy venues.
Whatever be the case, La Condesa - along with Doctores - is the best place to discover the artsy side of Mexico. Several quirky boutiques and studios have come up in the vicinity, so much so that they could be seen as reason enough to visit the streets here. The thoroughfares are also dotted with casual eateries, bistros and street side cafes where younger crowds spend a majority of their time. You will also be drawn to the cultural centres and live music venues that really come into their own after sun down.
The neighborhood is a little farther out west from the Centro Historico, but by no means difficult to access. It's about a 20-25 minute ride for the central location, but you should not have too much trouble finding your way in. Boutique hotels and art deco apartments offer a unique opportunity to experience the city like no other.
Sandwiched between the two last neighbourhoods is the popular destination of Roma Norte. This is the part of Mexico City that has drawn travellers for the longest now, mostly owing to it being the originating point of much of the city's artistic subculture. But before we get into all of that, a quick shoutout to the obvious must-visits: the Museo del Objeto and Galería OMR for their top notch exhibits as well as the lush Plazas around Fuentes de Cibeles and the Plazas Rio de Janeiro.
Now onto the street arts and culinary delights that make Colonial Roma, and Roma Norte in particular, great! While you can find these elements interspersed in almost all parts of the neighborhood, two thoroughfares that manage to stand out. The Mercado Roma - known for a slew of street vendors selling global cuisine and the Avenida Alvaro Oregon - the one with some of Mexico City's best outdoor cafes, bistros and takeout shops. Both avenues are of course set in the backdrop of the vibrant graffiti and open air art that the city promised at the very onset!
Roma Norte is an expansive neighborhood, which has access to Doctores in the East and Condesa in the West. Finding a hotel should be an easy task, given the high regard that the neighborhood holds within the inner circle of Mexico City's gastronomy and artistic communities.
The neighborhood of Juarez, situated just north of Roma Norte possesses one of the most fashionable cityscapes of all. Characterised by stately European mansions and townhouses, public squares with ornate centrepieces (including the iconic The Angel of Independence statuette) and tree-lined avenues will transport you to a whole different era - one far away from the frantic pace of a metropolitan area. You will definitely enjoy marvelling at the aforementioned mansions and other roadside monuments.
Do not, however, mistake the quieter outlook for a lack of entertainment options in the neighborhood. Interspersed throughout Juarez are trendy eateries serving a whole range of cuisines, most notable of which are local delicacies and Korean staples available at the neighborhood's many home grown businesses (run by a thriving immigrant community). It is also the venue of Bazar Fusion, a fashion store housing local designer brands in a palatial complex as well as Zona Rosa, a nightlife district known for its many bars and LGBTQ+ friendly vibe.
Juarez is sandwiched between several other neighborhoods, and thus has direct access to most major parts of Mexico City. That makes it a great place for travellers looking for a locale that's more or less equidistant from all over. And in addition to that, the neighborhood's fashionable outlook also reflects in its top-notch hotel and homestay options making it a top draw!
And for the last neighborhood on the list, we bring to you the quaint San Miguel Chapultepec. Tucked away into the southwestern corner of Mexico City, this is the place closest to the expansive Bosque de Chapultepec park. The green space is worth a whole trip of its own; the Chapultepec Castle complex sitting atop a small hillock makes up the heart of the park and is one of the most charming spots that you will come across in Mexico City! The brutally romantic moss covered walls here and views of a sprawling skyline emerging out of a seemingly thick natural forest cover will give you reasons to come back for round two!
The National History Museum, Museo de Arte Moderno and the Zoológico de Chapultepec - all of which are also in the vicinity of the park round up the neighborhood's appeal for history buffs and families as well. The central thoroughfares are lined with austere looking storefronts, but you will be surprised with the sheer number of new and innovative businesses (which feature mixed-use spaces that blur the distinctions between art galleries, cafes and souvenir shops) that have come up around the blocks in the last few years.
San Miguel Chapultepec is the farthest out of all the neighbourhoods on the list, but is by no means difficult to access. And that's thanks to the good road connectivity and an efficient public transport system that makes for a hassle free experience. Plus, hotel and accommodation options in and around the neighborhood are among some of most reasonably priced that you will find in the city!
And that's our complete list from the Mexican capital. Take a look and have a great time planning your next vacation; Ciudad de México awaits!