This last summer, I came home most days feeling mentally exhausted and wasn’t prioritizing my loved ones. To compensate, I flew out of Dallas most weekends in August. And, after realizing I hadn’t booked a proper trip abroad in almost a year, I opened up Google flights and found round trip tickets from Dallas to Mexico City on sale. I booked immediately and texted a girlfriend to join me.
Mexico City surpassed all my expectations: I found myself falling in love with the bright colors, the local hospitality, and the historically rich architecture. The city was also easy to navigate. Rideshare was relatively inexpensive: on average $2-10 USD, so it was possible to cover a lot of ground in a short period.
Here’s a breakdown of my favorite highlights:
1. Casa Azul
Frida Kahlo is iconic as one of the most famous artists in the world and in her depictions of female strength and resilience. Casa Azul was turned into a museum by Diego after her death, dedicated to showcasing their intimate possessions and works.
Buy your tickets online in advance if possible. You’re not guaranteed admission if you show up same day, and lines can be waiting around the corner. We took almost 1.5 hours to tour it, but in all honesty, I feel like that was still too short. There were exhibits in most rooms of the house, including some of Frida’s and Diego’s more prominent pieces and art supplies over their lifetime. We were also able to see a limited collection of actual dresses Frida wore and were blown away at how intricate the patterns were.
Protip: if you’d like to take photos of the actual exhibits, you do have to pay an extra fee. This seems to be a pretty common practice in a lot of museums we went to in Mexico City.
The Aztecs once named this historic site “the place where the gods were created.” The most popular sites include the Pyramid of the Sun and the Pyramid of the Moon, revealing the ancient civilization’s affinity towards astrology. For example, the Pyramid of the Sun at Mexico’s Teotihuacan lies at the center of a multiple structures, each structure perfectly aligning with a planet in the solar system. Most of the history behind the origin and eventual fall of Teotihuacan is shrouded in mystery; however, it’s evident that the people that resided there had a deep understanding of advanced mathematics and cosmology.
This nearly two-thousand-year site is only an hour outside of the city. We did a self-guided tour and took a bus from one of the city’s terminals – Terminal Central del Norte at gate #8. You can buy roundtrip tickets at the gate (under $10 USD) and can find food and drinks available for purchase within the terminal (which I would recommend because the actual pyramids are steep/can be tiring to climb). The bus takes you near the entrance of the pyramids. If you can, avoid going on Sunday because that’s when the site is most congested with crowds (Sundays are free for all Mexican residents). We showed up fairly early and were glad we did because the crowds were almost intolerable by noon. You can plan to spend at least half the day here.
3. Castillo Chapultepec
This 18th century castle was once the home to the Mexican President (until 1939) – it now serves as the National Museum of History. Parts of the museum was difficult for me to translate (all the explanations/texts were in Spanish) – but architecturally, there’s a lot to absorb. Fun fact: Castillo Chapultepec is also the only royal castle in the Americas. Since it’s located on top of Chapultepec Hill, it’s about a 15-20 min walk to the entrance. The entrance fee only costs about $60 pesos for adults (a little over $3 USD).
4. El Moro
Anyone that knows me (knows me well), knows that I prefer savory over sweet delicacies. El Moro was the exception to the rule. Although there are a few locations in the city, the original is located in Centro Histórico and open 24/7. The place was packed with locals, and the line was backed outside the restaurant. You have the option to order churros, consuelo, and different variations of hot drinks. We ordered a churros for the table and a round of hot chocolate. The chocolate is super rich – one cup can probably be shared between two people.
5. Other honorable mentions:
Palacio de Bellas Artes