5 reasons you must visit Mexico City

Mexico City may not always grab the attention of travellers, but there’s a diverse array of things to do in Mexico’s quirky, vibrant and colourful capital…

Team Wanderlust
17 January 2020

1. Lucha libre!

Traditional wrestling masks used by luchadores (Shutterstock)

Every Tuesday at 7.30pm, all-star Mexican wrestlers known as ‘Luchadores’ come together for a breathtaking performance.

Inside Arena México, located in the central barrio (neighbourhood) of Colonia Doctores, you’ll likely be one of the few non-locals in attendance as you watch the various wrestlers jump around the ring, taunting and baiting their colourfully-masked counterparts.

Expect vocal crowds cheering on a flurry of high-flying leaps, creative holds and occasional (very dramatic) mask removal, which can symbolise a profound loss in the ring.

Undeniably, the Tuesday night extravaganza is intense but thoroughly entertaining, and suitable for all ages. Make sure you get your tickets from the taquilla (ticket desk) and not the touts outside, lest you be charged twice the regular entrance fee.

2. Try Mexico’s pre-tequila tipple

Jugs of pulque (Shutterstock)

Long before the people of Mexico had the distillation technology available to produce tequila, their drink of choice was pulque: a pre-industrial alcoholic drink made from fermented agave.

By all accounts, without a little help, pulque has a strange, thick consistency and can taste a bit sour – almost as if Calpol and Greek yoghurt had a baby. Drinking it on its own is standard, though you can also order it with fresh fruit (pulque curado) or with a variety of added flavours to liven up the taste.

Once upon a time, there were thousands of pulqueria taverns all over Mexico City. Nowadays, you can expected to find just a few dozen spread across the capital.

Your best bit for a traditional pulque tasting is to visit Plaza Garibaldi, a renowned square in the north of the city’s historic centre. In addition to being one of the best locations for finding a bar selling pulque, it’s also a hub for Mexico City’s finest traditional mariachi bands, who patrol the square dressed to the nines in their expensive uniforms.

3. You can get lost in La Merced Market

Deep inside La Merced market (Shutterstock)

La Merced Market is unremittingly large. Its never-ending avenues of this-and-that – from secondhand shoes to arcade machines and political piñatas – can comfortably provide for an afternoon’s browsing.

The market is itself a barrio of the city, and, while you’ll likely disregard 98% of the goods as tat, the law of averages dictate you’ll stumble upon something special eventually.

La Merced also plays host to the Sonora Market, which, for those who dare to look, caters to every facet of the supernatural: including troughs of scorpions, spells for your ambitions, and curses for your enemies.

Having gotten yourself thoroughly lost in La Merced, you can always give your feet a break and duck into one of the many cantinas that line the way, treating yourself to a quick botana (snack) and a cold beer.

4. The colourful Casa Azul

Casa Azul near Coyoacán, Mexico City (Shutterstock)

Prominent painter Frida Kahlo remains Mexico’s national treasure – you’ll see her staring you down every time you free a $500 Mexican peso note from your wallet.

Her house, The Casa Azul – which played host to,Leon Trotsky, George Gershwin and Sergei Eisenstein among others – provides a vibrant backdrop to her works, many of which you’ll encounter on the inside. She designed the entire house herself, too, along with her partner, another Mexican artist named Diego Rivera.

Once you’ve peered through a window into Frida’s art and personal life, have a wonder around the surrounding barrio of Coyoacán. It’s one of Mexico City’s most entrancing areas, and the streets are lined with vendors selling all kinds of mouth-watering street food.

5. The neighbourhoods of La Roma and Condesa

Colonial architecture in La Roma, Mexico City (Shutterstock)

The adjacent barrios of La Roma and Condesa (the former newly famous as the setting for Alfonso Cuarón’s titular film, Roma) are perfect places to while a way a day.

La Roma’s numerous cafes are a great place to grab some breakfast and one of North America’s best cups of coffee. In the afternoon, you can always pop into one of Condesa’s boutique gallery spaces, and sample some of the city’s contemporary art.

Come the evening, the mescalerias beckon. These are bars that specialise in mescal – a Mexican drink, similar to tequila but with its own natural smoky flavour, usually served alongside a plate of orange slices all slathered in sal de gusano (a crimson powder made from dehydrated worms).

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