Why You Should Plan a Trip to Mexico City

Explore pre-Columbian sites and sample mouthwatering cuisine on a trip to remember.

U.S. News & World Report

Why You Should Plan a Trip to Mexico City

Independence Angel monument in Mexico City

With impressive architectural marvels and thriving dining and arts scenes, Mexico's buzzing metropolis offers allures for a variety of traveler types and interests, from foodies to culture vultures.(Getty Images)

While Mexico City's Aztec heritage and Spanish lore has lured tourists to its metropolis for years, these days, the city's up-and-coming design enclaves and flourishing food and scenes are drawing international visitors in droves. And aside from its wealth of historic sites, museums, colonial buildings and boundary-pushing gastronomy, Mexico City also offers a high value for U.S. visitors, earning it a top place on the frugal traveler's map. If you're ready to start planning a trip to the Mexican capital, cross these historic and culture-filled places and experiences off your list on your next trip.

The Burgeoning Hotel Scene

Today, Mexico City's hotel scene is booming. To stay at a property steeped in history, head to the Sheraton Mexico City Maria Isabel Hotel. Located directly across from Angel de Independencia Monument, the hotel is a historic monument in its own right, and features five penthouse suites along with a star-studded guest list that spans from President John F. Kennedy to Marilyn Monroe. Another superlative Mexico City hotel is the Four Seasons Hotel Mexico, D.F. Located on the grand boulevard of Paseo de la Reforma – within steps of Chapultepec Park and the trendy Condesa and Polanco neighborhoods – the hotel offers elegant surroundings, impeccable service and graceful colonial-inspired interiors.

If staying at a luxury hotel will burst your budget, consider checking into the contemporary Hotel Carlota. Opened in June 2015 in the quiet Colonia Cuauhtemoc neighborhood, the hotel offers nightly rates starting at $128 and boasts a pristine pool, a trendy boutique and a prime location that's about a 15-minute walk from a popular metro stop.

The Mouthwatering Meals

After the Mexico City-based Chef Enrique Olvera opened Cosme in New York City to critical acclaim, Mexico City was thrust into the spotlight as an emerging culinary hot spot. Don't pass up the chance to enjoy a memorable dinner at Chef Olvera's original restaurant, Pujol, which dishes out traditional plates with contemporary twists and seasonal ingredients. While a meal will come attached to a high price tag, it's hard to resist delectable dishes, like a signature zesty aged mole madre paired with fresh mole.

If you can't secure a table at Pujol, Chef Eduardo Garcia, an alum of both Pujol and New York City's Le Bernardin, has opened his own establishment, Maximo Bistrot Local, which features dishes cooked exclusively with ingredients that arrive in his kitchen within a day. What's more, Olvera has handpicked Pujol as one of his top five places to eat in Mexico City.

And if you're seeking a more budget-friendly dining establishment, make sure to swing by Hotel Carlota to grab a bite at Carlota. Under the direction of chefs Joaquin Cardoso and Sofia Cortina, Carlota offers a plethora of flavorful vegetable dishes and staples such as huevos rancheros an chilaquiles (corn tortillas with eggs or organic turkey with a red or green salsa).

Mexico City is a Mecca for Art and Architecture

Exploring Mexico City's architectural marvels is a must for any visitor. Templo Mayor, a 13th-century Aztec temple, is well worth checking out. There's also the baroque Catedral Metropolitana de Mexico, built by Spanish conquistadors, as well as the Palacio Nacional. Conveniently located in and around the Plaza de la Constitución, a main square known as El Zocaló, these buildings are easy to explore in an afternoon.

And if you're interested in taking a daytrip from Mexico City, the ancient Mesoamerican city of Teotihuacán merits exploration. Built between the 1st and 7th centuries, and located in a sub-valley of the Valley of Mexico (about 30 miles from Mexico City), this UNESCO World Heritage site features some of the country's biggest pre-Colombian pyramids. When first built, 25,000 inhabitants occupied the side, and according to UNESCO, the city is "a model of urbanization and large-scale planning, which greatly influenced the conceptions of contemporary and subsequent cultures." When you stand in the ceremonial center, you're sure to be awestruck by the site's vast monuments.

You Can Get Your Shopping Fix

If art, architecture, food and history is not for you, Mexico City also has a diverse array of shops to pique your interest with a blend of emerging and iconic designers. Don't skip checking out Avenida Presidente Masaryk for high-end items and the cool neighborhoods of Condesa and Roma for eclectic boutiques.

About En Route

Practical advice on the art of traveling smarter with tips, tricks and intel from En Route's panel of experts.

Contributors have experience in areas ranging from family travel, adventure travel, experiential travel and budget travel to hotels, cruises and travel rewards and include Amy Whitley, Claire Volkman, Holly Johnson, Marsha Dubrow, Lyn Mettler, Sery Kim, Kyle McCarthy, Erica Lamberg, Jess Moss, Sheryl Nance-Nash, Sherry Laskin, Katie Jackson, Erin Gifford, Roger Sands, Steve Larese, Gwen Pratesi, Erin Block, Dave Parfitt, Kacey Mya, Kimberly Wilson, Susan Portnoy, Donna Tabbert Long and Kitty Bean Yancey.

Edited by Liz Weiss.

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