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Mexico City stands out as one of the 10 best destinations in the world for international conferences and conventions, it’s the commercial leader and the biggest city in Latin America. It’s also home to the largest number of museums in the world and is number four on the list of cities with the most movie theaters after New York, London and Toronto. What’s more, there are four world heritage sites there. And as if that weren’t enough, recently the Wall Street Journal called Mexico City "possibly the world’s greatest food city."
An afternoon stroll
Apart from its bustling business life, the historic center of Mexico City – declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco – is a major tourist destination.
If you have a free afternoon to visit the not-to-miss sites of this area, your itinerary should start with the Plaza de la Constitución, popularly known as the Zócalo. Presided over by an enormous flag, thousands of people visit daily: tourists as well as people involved in social protests and in indigenous ceremonies. Nearby, you can visit the National Palace. Built 1693, inside you’ll find murals by Diego Rivera.
A few meters away you’ll encounter the archaeological area encompassing the Templo Mayor and the Metropolitan Cathedral, the largest church in Latin America. A few blocks further you may hear the mariachis singing from Plaza Garibaldi, the focal point of more traditional Mexico. From there, about 20 minutes to the west, you’ll reach the Plaza de la República, with the Monument to the Revolution and its own museum in the basement.
You can get to know all of these places on foot if you stay at the NH Mexico City Centro Histórico, located in the historical city center, just a few steps from the Zócalo and the Metropolitan Cathedral.
And in and among the streets you’ll find innumerable museums housed in colonial mansions. One of the “must-see” sites of the city is the National Anthropology Museum, located within the Forest of Chapultepec. It holds the most important treasures of pre-Hispanic Mexico such as the Sun Stone or the Aztec calendar, Tizoc and Coatlicue, giant stone Olmec heads and a rebuilt Mayan temple. The Frida Kahlo Museum, the “Blue House” of the Coyoacan neighborhood, is another of the interesting places to go during your walk.
An entire day in the city
But to get to know the city more thoroughly, it takes a whole day and includes exploring one of its historic neighborhoods which still maintains its personality despite being within this great metropolis. Among the more than 400 known areas, there are 21 recommended by the Secretariat of Tourism. Below we highlight a few:
-Colonia Roma and Colonia Condesa for the French facades in the former and for the current “boom” among young people in the latter.
-To the south, the University City of UNAM – also a World Heritage Site – is home to the best of Mexico's architecture and painting from the 1950's and 60's.
-The NH Collection Mexico City Reforma lies to the west of the city in the heart of the Zona Rosa neighborhood, located in the financial district of Mexico City. It’s also a fashionable and busy area, good for a day of shopping or enjoying its many nightclubs.
After spending part of the day as a tourist or before a work meeting, it’s possible to get some exercise or simply take stroll through the forest of Chapultepec. It’s the largest green lung in the city and in Latin America – with 686 hectares and more than 200 species of flora and fauna. You can also take an organized tour to visit the forest.
If you already know the historic center well, another option could be to spend your free day visiting the pyramids of Teotihuacán, located just 51 kilometers northeast of the Mexican capital.
And back in the city, you may find the cuisine to be a more interesting event. Few of the cities have as varied a culinary offering as Mexico City. New trends are booming in DF, according to the internationally popular list: The world’s 50 best restaurants.
Among them is Sud777 which is located to the south of Ciudad Universitaria and is presided over by Edgar Núñez, one of the most exceptional chefs in the country.
But if you want a taste of the purest tradition, the streets in Colonia de Polanco are filled with food carts that travel around the city with tacos (corn tortillas with vegetables or meat), tamales (corn mass stuffed with meat, vegetables or sauces wrapped in vegetable leaves), elotes (corn on the cob) and esquites (corn boiled and seasoned with chile, mayonnaise and lemon).
And in this same area you’ll find some of the other more distinguished restaurants in the city where you can taste the new culinary trends. For example Quintonil, Biko and Dulce Patria.
To find bars to have a drink, you have to head to Zona Rosa or the colonies of Condesa, Roma Coyoacán or San Ángel. There, you’ll find some of the trendy clubs like Felix, Wallace Whiskey Bar, Pata Negra or El Depósito.
Mexico City has many varied and interesting shopping possibilities: from street markets and craft shops to boutiques and luxury stores. The most exclusive shops of renowned designers are located in Polanco, on Avenida Masaryk. And if you’re looking for local crafts, visit the Mercado de la Ciudadela – the most traditional in the country – or head to Coyoacan or Plaza Garibaldi.
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