The three-week Festival del Centro Histórico in March takes over the city with cultural events.The holiday periods of Semana Santa (Easter week) and Christmas to New Year are particularly busy with Mexicans visiting the cities as well as tourists, the price of flights will be slightly higher than normal during this time. During the month of Easter, Mexico City showcases talent in the area of art and culture from the local community. Mexico City’s Annual Festival features entertainment from performances such as opera singers, orchestras, theatre groups, dancers and singers and is one of the liveliest and energetic festivals in the country. February is a further busy month for Mexico City as it host its own lively, energetic and colourful carnival. Thousands take to the streets to have fun, party, dance and sing well into the night with high spirits. Mexico City Carnival is a raucous affair which is on par with the famous Rio Carnival, so if you are looking for a rested trip, avoid travelling during carnival season.
With its mild climate, you will be hard pressed to find an off season in Mexico City. For fewer crowds, booking flights during a non-holiday period is the best bet. Quieter celebrations take place in Mexico City in November in Mariachi Square where locals gather for Fiesta de Santa Cecilia. The festival pays respect to the patron saint of musicians, St. Cecilia, through a tribute concert and an outdoor party which involves dance, drinks and singing.
The smell of roasted corn, Aztec dancers showing off their moves, and ‘healers’ beckoning tourists to try a miracle cure: this is just a regular Monday afternoon in Mexico City. This vibrant capital city was once the capital of the Aztec Empire; today it’s one of the most populated cities in the world. Most travellers booking flights to Mexico City stop over briefly on their way to other regions in Mexico, but stay a little longer and you’ll quickly discover what inspired the likes of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera.
Wandering through the streets of Mexico City is the best way to embrace its heritage and savour some authentic Mexican street food. The area of Zocalo is a good starting point from which to explore the city. Here Mayan ruins live beside modern buildings and colonial churches while dramatic Rivera murals adorn the walls. Art lovers coming off their Mexico City flights will make the museums their first stop. Kahlo fans can’t miss a trip to the Museo de Frida Kahlo in La Casa Azul and Museo Casa Estudio Diego Rivera y Frida Kahlo, where the famous couple once lived.
Built on the dry bed of Lake Texcoco, and surrounded on three sides by tall mountains and volcanoes such as the Ajusco, the Popocatepetl and the Ixtlacihuatl, Mexico City is densely populated and full to the brim with things to do. First-time visitors should not miss the ruins of Templo Mayor, the vast National Museum of Anthropology or the mouth-watering street food – tacos, tamales, burritos, quesadillas and roasted corn – to be found in the traditional markets around Centro Historico. Those on a family holiday should take the kids to Chapultepec Zoo. Chapultepec Park itself could easily take up at least two days. It’s one of the biggest urban parks in the world and its name means ‘grasshopper hill’. The Park hosts the zoo, a castle, museums and an amusement park.
Also on the sightseeing list you create during your flight should be the National Palace. Travel to the Aztec Templo Mayor to really get an idea of the city’s history and the jaw-droppingly huge Teotihuacan. In complete contrast to the precious relics found at the Templo Mayor is Mexico’s colourful pro-wrestling at Arena de Mexico. As in the rest of the Americas, football is a national passion so a day out at the lively and vibrant Estadio Azteca is a must. Pack some earplugs on your flight to Mexico City though – the roar of the crowd can be deafening.
Because of its high altitude, Mexico City has pleasant summers and mild winters. May is the warmest month with temperatures reaching the high 20s, and January is the coolest with temperatures generally in the teens and 20s, but night frosts are possible. The rainy season is June to September with July getting the most rain. February is the driest month.December and January also have the most smog, although the pollution levels are improving
Don’t worry about getting around in Mexico City, one of the biggest cities in the world. The public transport system is efficient and cheap. The metro runs from early morning until midnight and is clean and easy to use. The bus system is also extensive, but you might find it easier to use if you speak Spanish. Minibuses can be a better option than buses, since they are smaller, faster and more comfortable. They can drop you off anywhere along their route. With so many people in the city, public transport can be very crowded during rush hour. Be aware of your surroundings during rush hour and at night; crime levels are high on the subway and buses. Central Square’s cobblestoned streets can be a lovely area to walk around. If you want to take a taxi, be safe and call ahead for one, instead of hailing it on the street. Many hotels and restaurants can help you call a cab. If you’re planning on driving in the city, know that it can be a tricky place to manoeuvre and prices are high. Additionally, cars are prohibited from driving in the city one day a week. Find out which days you are restricted by checking the last number of your licence plate against a list at the tourist office. When smog levels are high, as they are in December and January, numbers can come up more than once per week.
There is a Metro service from Mexico City Airport (MEX) to the downtown part of the City. Taxis are regulated and passengers can pay in advance at the taxi counter in Arrivals. There are also suburban bus services. Some hotels offer a pick-up service, however it is worth checking their charge as it’s generally cheaper to take a taxi.