Things to Know Before You Go to Mexico City: History and Spicy Cuisine

From ancient ruins to fiery tacos, uncover things to know before you go to Mexico City.

Vibrant street art and food stalls line a bustling street in Mexico City
Vibrant street art and food stalls line a bustling street in Mexico City

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to walk through the streets where the Aztecs once tread, or to savor a dish that’s been a local favorite for centuries? 

Welcome to Mexico City, a place where history and spicy cuisine meet in a vibrant dance of cultures and flavors. Here, every corner tells a story, and every meal is a celebration of life. 

But before you pack your bags, there are a few essential things to know before you go to Mexico City. 

With that, let’s embark on this journey together, where ancient ruins greet skyscrapers and tacos are a culinary treasure!

Preparing for Your Mexico City Adventure: What to Know

Once you decide to visit Mexico City, you’ve certainly taken the first step on an unforgettable journey. This city’s heart beats with a rhythm of history, culture, and gastronomic excellence. 

To ensure your trip is as enriching as it can be, let’s dive into the essentials of planning your visit.

When to Go and How to Budget

To most travelers, the sweet spot for visiting Mexico City lies between March and May. During these months, the weather is at its most inviting, and the city blooms in a festive spirit, especially with events like the Semana Santa and Cinco de Mayo

For travelers mindful of their expenses, rejoice, for Mexico City caters to all. From savoring street food wonders to indulging in free cultural delights, your daily budget can range comfortably between $50 to $100. 

Embrace these things to know before you go to Mexico City, and discover that adventure and luxury can coexist, even on a budget.

Where to Stay

Your choice of stay when in Mexico City can define your experience. For those seeking a blend of trendiness and convenience, neighborhoods like La Condesa and Roma are gems with their boutique hotels and B&Bs

But if a deeper dive into Mexico City’s soul is what you yearn for, then the historic charms of Coyoacán, with its local homestays, await. 

Remember, ensuring your Mexico City abode should also align with your itinerary and not only enhance your exploration but also deepen your connection with Mexico City’s essence.

How to Get Around

Mastering the art of navigation in Mexico City brings its own set of rewards. The Metro is definitely an efficient and economic choice, spanning across the city, and supplemented by the Metrobús and light rail for those further reaches. 

If you are environmentally conscious while also an explorer at heart, biking through the city’s lanes offers a refreshing perspective. On the other hand, ride-sharing apps are a reliable and more convenient companion, ensuring safe and comfortable travels at any hour. 

Immersing yourself in the vibrant local life becomes all the more enjoyable once you learn how to navigate the city with ease, plus more of these things to know before you go to Mexico City.

A mariachi musician serenades passersby on a cobblestone street in Mexico City
A mariachi musician serenades passersby on a cobblestone street in Mexico City

Culture & Interaction

In Mexico City, the rich tapestry of culture and history is matched only by the warmth of its people. 

As you prepare to dive into this vibrant cultural milieu, remember, understanding and respecting local customs and traditions is key.

Local Customs and Etiquette

Mexico City thrives on its traditions and social etiquettes. A warm greeting, typically a handshake or a nod, is customary, and a simple “buenos días” (good morning) or “buenas tardes” (good afternoon) can set a positive tone for your interactions. 

When visiting sacred sites, make sure you dress appropriately to show respect. Tipping is also an ingrained practice; from restaurants, where 10-15% is standard, to taxi drivers, who typically do not expect tips but appreciate the gesture. 

Understanding these practices is an essential part of understanding the essential things to know before you go to Mexico City.

Language Tips

While Spanish is the lingua franca, don’t let language barriers deter you. Basic phrases such as “¿cuánto cuesta?” (how much does it cost?) and “¿dónde está el baño?” (Where is the bathroom?) can go a long way. 

Of course, English is also spoken in major tourist areas, particularly by many younger locals, but carrying a translation app or a phrasebook can enhance your experience. 

Just keep in mind that embracing the local language can show locals that you’re respectful of their culture, while also enriching your travel experience.

Exploring & Experiencing

Mexico City absolutely invites you to delve into its rich tapestry of attractions, flavors, and unique activities, revealing the essence of this dynamic metropolis.

Let’s check out what this gem of a city has to offer your itinerary!

Must-Visit Attractions

Begin at the Zócalo, the pulsating heart of the city, to witness a blend of Mexico’s past and present. Nearby, the ancient Templo Mayor offers a glimpse into the Aztec empire, while the serene canals of Xochimilco promise a picturesque escape on traditional trajineras. 

Not to be missed, the Frida Kahlo Museum in Coyoacán allows an intimate look at the life of one of Mexico’s most iconic artists. 

These landmarks are crucial things to know before you go to Mexico City, ensuring you experience a well-rounded visit that makes you fall even more in love with the city.

A chef slices meat for tacos al pastor at a bustling Mexico City street food stand.
A chef slices meat for tacos al pastor at a bustling Mexico City street food stand.

Food and Drink

Mexico City‘s cuisine spreads a delightful blend of indigenous and colonial flavor. It is a primary draw for many visitors. Beyond the iconic tacos al pastor, which are a must-try, the city’s culinary scene dazzles with items like tlayudas, ceviche, and mole, each telling its own story of regional diversity and culinary innovation. Street markets, like those in La Merced, also offer an authentic taste of local life alongside mouthwatering dishes.

Meanwhile, fine dining in Mexico City competes on a global stage, with innovative chefs turning local ingredients into gastronomic masterpieces in neighborhoods like Polanco and Roma. Yet, the city’s heart beats strongest in its markets and street stalls, where traditional recipes have been perfected over generations.

For those with specific dietary needs, Mexico City is increasingly accommodating, offering a wide range of options from vegan tacos to gluten-free traditional dishes. Specialty restaurants and cafes cater to diverse dietary preferences, ensuring everyone can enjoy the rich flavors of Mexican cuisine.

Local Experiences

For the best of local experiences, we recommend you join a culinary tour or enroll in a cooking class to unravel the secrets of Mexico City‘s renowned gastronomy. For art lovers, the city’s vibrant street art scene and participatory workshops offer a deep dive into contemporary Mexican culture. 

While costs for these experiences may vary, they provide profound insights into the local way of life, standing out as essential things to know before you go to Mexico City for any cultural aficionado.

Staying Safe & Healthy

Safety in Mexico City, as in any large city, requires awareness and precautions. Stick to well-lit, populated areas and be mindful of your belongings in crowded places. While the city is largely safe for travelers, it’s wise to stay informed about areas to avoid through local advice or travel advisories.

Health-wise, no specific vaccinations are required for Mexico City, but staying up-to-date on routine vaccines is recommended. Tap water is mostly not potable, so opt for bottled or purified water instead. But access to medical care is generally good, with pharmacies and clinics readily available. 

Remember these vital things to know before you go to Mexico City, and you’re sure to have a safe and healthy visit.

Discover the Secrets of Mexico City With This City Knows

As our journey through the vibrant streets of Mexico City comes to a close, we hope you’re left with a deeper understanding and excitement for what awaits in this cultural and culinary haven. From navigating local customs and navigating the city’s bustling streets to indulging in its world-renowned cuisine and embracing unique local experiences, the things to know before you go to Mexico City are your keys to unlocking an unforgettable adventure.

Now, it’s your turn to go on this journey with This City Knows. Whether you’re planning to immerse yourself in the city’s rich history, savor every bite of its spicy cuisine, or simply wander through its colorful neighborhoods, we’re here to guide you every step of the way. 

Make sure to share your own Mexico City adventures or tips in the comments below and join a community of like-minded travelers. 

Together, let’s explore the endless treasures that Mexico City has to offer!

Author: Nine

Nine delves into cities with a thirst for the untold and the overlooked, weaving narratives that bring destinations alive. They spotlight the heartbeat of places—through the lens of locals and the whispers of streets less traveled. With Nine, every story is an invitation to see the world through eyes wide with wonder.

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