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September 21, 2022 / Riskline Newsroom

Riskline Insider Travel Tips: Mexico City – A bustling megalopolis overflowing with life

As the capital of a country dubbed by Salvador Dalí as "more surreal than my paintings", Mexico City overflows with life, traffic and great food. It is a sprawling megalopolis, a city of contrasts where visitors enjoy the genuine friendliness of Mexican people.

By Eeva Rusuka

Top 3 places to visit in Mexico City

Pre-Hispanic Roots, Modern Hipster Mecca

There’s a lot of variety in the city’s 16 boroughs. When the Mexica people ruled the area over 500 years ago, residents of Tenochtitlán travelled by boat, as the city’s core around the Zócalo (main square) was built on an island amidst Lake Texcoco. Today, most of the canals have been drained but you can still get a glimpse of this lifestyle in Xochimilco borough, on board small colorful trajinera boats that drift among floating chinampa gardens that once formed the backbone of the city’s food supply.

Meanwhile, the Roma and Condesa neighbourhoods in Cuauhtémoc borough boast some of the city’s best nightlife, art galleries and restaurants, sprinkled with green parks and design boutiques next to artisan vendors and pop-up markets. The late 19th and early 20th century architecture makes a perfect spot for leisurely walks with churros and hot chocolate, followed by a night out savouring mezcal drinks in hip bars.

Street Food, Fine-Dining

In Mexico City, the variety of food is mindblowing. In many boroughs, you will find street vendors and world-class fine dining on the same block. Local market halls offer inexpensive three-course comida corrida meals in a colourful environment, while inexpensive, high-quality street food can be found on practically any corner ranging from tacos to tortas (sandwiches), tlacoyos (stuffed and toasted corn dough) and tamales (corn dough steamed in a corn husk or banana leaf).

Spice up your meal with innumerous chilli sauces and an agua fresca (a blend of fresh fruit, water and sugar) or a michelada (beer with lime juice in a salt-rimmed glass). In many fine-dining restaurants, chefs are redefining classic recipes and taking them to the next level, making Mexico City one of the top gastronomy destinations in the world. Mexicans love their food and eateries fill up for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Lucha Libre, Iconic Heritage

The city offers plenty of entertainment to sports, art and history fans alike. Join crowds shouting insults or praise at masked wrestlers in lucha libre matches at the Coliseo or Arena México. Chant together with thousands of fans at the Azteca or Olympic stadiums during football games. Art fans will devour the paintings and murals of iconic 20th century artists like Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco and David Alfaro Siqueiros, including in Coyoacán and at Bellas Artes Palace and the National Palace in the Historic Centre, as well as contemporary street art in Tlatelolco, Roma and other neighbourhoods. A full day or two can be easily spent at the National Museum of Anthropology admiring fascinating artifacts from Mexico’s pre-Hispanic heritage in the posh Polanco neighbourhood.

Travel risk tips

Mexico City is always bustling, no matter what time of the year you decide to go. The best time to visit is in spring, when many avenues bloom with purple jacaranda flowers and the weather is warm and dry, avoiding the rainy season that runs from May to October. Mexico City moves fast, and gets crowded at times. Although the public transport network is robust with the Metro, Metrobús, Trolebús, Ecobici and more options, the city’s ubiquitous pink-and-white taxis and ridesharing options provide a safer alternative at a low cost. Get local advice on areas better to avoid, as certain neighbourhoods are considered more dangerous than others.

Mexico City is located in a seismic zone. The soft and sandy soil of the former lakebed acts as an amplifier for tremors. Some neighbourhoods are more likely to suffer damage from seismic activity than others. It is important to be aware of the risk of a possible earthquake and be prepared on how to act and protect yourself and others. Hotels have emergency evacuation procedures in place for such situations. If you hear the earthquake alarm, act immediately but calmly. Finally, flexibility rules in Mexico. While Mexicans are known for their friendliness, punctuality is not their forte. Be ready to wait 15 to 30 minutes for any appointment. The concept of time is fluid to say the least. One of the most widely used words in Mexican Spanish – ahorita – can mean anything from right away to whenever I get round to it.

Eeva Ruuska is our Mexico-based AMER Team Leader.

About Riskline
Riskline is a world-class travel risk intelligence company. We provide country and city risk assessments and real-time alert messaging to fulfil Duty of Care requirements before and during travel. Trusted by global travel management companies, small businesses and everyone in between, Riskline has been in operation since 2007 and is headquartered in Copenhagen, Denmark.

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