The only reason I went to Mexico was to attend a friend’s wedding in Puerto Vallarta, but I’m really glad I stopped in Mexico if only for 9 days. Puerto Vallarta was absolutely beautiful, and Mexico City surprised me with it’s modern trendy neighborhoods, art galleries, and tasty street food.
Puerto Vallarta is a touristy city with beautiful ocean views. I typically am not a big fan of overly-touristy cities, but Puerto Vallarta has some charm in the Old town area and you cannot deny the beauty of the ocean front views. Steer clear of the new town unless you’re into fast-food restaurants and ugly skyscraper-style hotels and resorts.
- I felt completely safe here, but keep in mind that I was here for a wedding and spent nearly every evening and most days with my friends at wedding activities and within the confines of a resort.
Where to Stay – Hostel des Artistes
- I stayed at this hostel in the Old Town area for only two nights, but I would definitely go back. They have a rooftop terrace with a gorgeous view of the ocean which is only a few blocks away. It’s a wonderful place to enjoy your morning coffee or watch the sunset with a glass of wine.
- I stayed in a 3-person room with a private bath with hot water, and it was probably the nicest hostel room I’ve stayed in thus far. It was nicely decorated, clean, and spacious. If you plan to stay in the dorm, it’s nice but just be aware that the shared kitchen is also in the same room as the dorm, so you cannot lock the door and may have people in and out.
- The couple that owns the place is really nice and helpful, and they will pick you up from the airport for less than the cost of a taxi.
- The included “breakfast” leaves a lot to be desired (just a piece of toast with jelly and instant coffee), but since they have a kitchen you can use, you can supplement it with your own food.
- Although I did not use these services, they had a hot tub on the rooftop terrace and washer/ dryer you could use for a fee.
- I didn’t stay here long, but you can buy tasty and cheap tacos from street-side taco stands or small restaurants.
- The bus is really cheap (less than a quarter) and there are many of them, and you can take it to various parts of the city to explore the markets and beaches and walk around the marina.
I was in Mexico City for 5 days, and I loved it. I would definitely return to take in more of the art, culture, and tasty food.
- Although I was hesitant to believe what the people at the hostel told me when I checked in, many of the neighborhoods in Mexico City are safe. Zona Rosa, Roma, and Condesa are the neighborhoods I frequented, and I also walked all the way to the main tourist area Zocolo. During the day, I carried my good camera in these areas and took pictures without worry.
- I was told to avoid the Zocolo area at night and to be careful about my possessions on the subway.
Where to Stay – Bed & Breakfast Mexico Hostel
- This was a cheap option in a great location, the Roma neighborhood. Roma is a nice, modern residential neighborhood. It is quieter option to the very busy Zona Rosa area, but it still has a lot to offer: cafes, restaurants, boutique shopping, independent art galleries, and cheap street food.
- Included a delicious and filling breakfast of eggs, toast with butter and jelly, and instant coffee or tea. Ask for your eggs “mexicano” style. Very tasty and not too spicy for light-weights like me. Enjoy your breakfast in a room with lots of open windows and rooftop outdoor access. There is a decent kitchen for cooking your own food.
- Dorms are spacious and comfortable. I even had the dorm to myself most of the nights I was there.
- There are lockboxes in the main lobby (bring your own lock).
- Shared bathroom has hot water although it doesn’t have the best aroma (easy to get used to/ ignore).
- There is 24-hour front desk personnel, and they are very helpful. Take advantage of their knowledge of the sites to see, where to eat, and how to get around the city. One of the guys working the desk even had an iPad where he would pull up Google images to help you navigate and recognize where you were going.
- Lodging in Mexico City is more than other areas of Mexico, but you can still do it cheap. The hostel I stayed at (above) was only $13 a night with a good breakfast.
- The metro and the metrobus are easy and cheap ways to get to almost anywhere you want to go. Also, the city is very walkable. I often opted to walk even though I could take the public transportation. If you are arriving from the airport or a bus terminal during daylight, I would definitely take public transportation to your hostel to save money. Most hostels will provide easy-to-follow instructions, and if you’re hostel isn’t near public transportation, you shouldn’t be staying there.
- Many of the museums and art galleries are free or very low cost for entrance.
- Street food is abundant and cheap and delicious. If you stay at a hostel that has breakfast, you eat out at a street stand for lunch, and cook your own dinner, you can get by on under $5 a day for food.
- Teotihuacan pyramids – This is an easy and cheap day trip from Mexico City. You can take the Metro to the main bus terminal and then find the bus agency with a sign that says “Teotihuacan.” You’ll spend around $10 total on transportation and entry. Bring water and a snack if you don’t want to overpay at the site.
- Art galleries– They are everywhere. Here are some of my favorites:
- Roma and Condesa neighborhoods
- Galeria Nina Menocal – free, very interesting contemporary work, pretty building/ courtyard area
- Galeria OMR – free, very contemporary
- Galeria UAM – free
- Centro Cultural – free, very interesting place; upstairs room held concerts/ plays/ other types of performance art; art displayed in the café; gallery on the second floor
- Chapultepec – easy walk from Roma or Zona Rosa area
- Museo de Arte Moderno – low cost, student discount, a lot of cool stuff here, included works by famous artists
- Historic Center
- Museo Nacional de Arte MUNAL – $2, lots of great pieces and many from famous Mexican artists
- Borcegin – free, footwear museum; very different and actually quite interesting
- El Estanquilla – free, multiple galleries, and a rooftop terrace with great views
- Roma and Condesa neighborhoods
- Historic Center– Yes, this is of course the main tourist attraction, but you should see it once. The crowds are a bit much for me to want to hang out here for more than a day though.
- Pop into the Museo Mural Diego Rivera (I didn’t think it was that special but you might)
- Alameda Park is great to grab a cheap snack or lunch from a food vendor on the sidewalk around the park.
- Zocalo – This is a crazy busy square with beautiful, grand buildings lining all sides. Check out the Metropolitan Cathedral; it is really beautiful inside.
- 18 Republica de Guatemala – Don’t know the name of this one, but this is the address, and it is right behind the Metropolitan Cathedral. Free, cool art. There was a rooftop cafe (overpriced of course), but I didn’t really think you could see much.
- Walking – I loved just walking around the Roma, Condesa, and Zona Rosa neighborhoods, looking at the boutique fashion shops, the art galleries, the cafes, and the street food stands, There is so much to discover.
- Jogging – There are a couple of good parks
Favorite Food – I am ashamed to admit I did not try many of the local foods because of my short time there and the fact that the tacos were just so good I kept ordering them.
- Tacos al Pastor – My staple everyday for lunch. These vary so much based on the toppings/ salsas you choose, so pick a place with a good variety and sample at various stands or restaurants. Basically, this is a tortilla with pork meat carved off of one of those roasting spits with the pineapple on top.
- Salsas – There are usually 2 or 3 or sometimes more offered at restaurants and street stands. I suggest trying everything. But always try a little on the side (“al lado”) first. Most salsas are very spicy, and when Mexicans say “picante,” they mean it.
- Fruit Water – The fruit water is so refreshing and delicious. I only tried the guayaba, but I can tell you it would still be my favorite even if I’d tried them all.
- Check out this website for more info on the other food in Mexico City. I was blown away by the options and the fact that I had never seen most of them before in any other Latin American country I’ve visited.