Home to more than 25 million people, Mexico City is one of the world's true megacities. First-time visitors cannot fail to be impressed by the city, occupying a shallow mountain bowl at over 2,400m above sea level. Life here is equal parts laid back, edgy and cosmopolitan. The city's sheer size can be overwhelming – so deciding where to base yourself can prove crucial. Our guide will help you to decide where to stay in Mexico City.
Extraordinary uncovered ruins – chief of which is the Templo Mayor – provide the Zócalo’s most compelling attraction. However, there’s also a wealth of great colonial buildings, among them the huge cathedral and the Palacio Nacional with its striking Diego Rivera murals.
The Galería Lopez Quiroga is excellent, where you’ll find photos, sculptures and paintings by Mexico’s top artists. Polanco is also one of the city’s best shopping areas, albeit for those with cash to splash. Start with a visit to Antara. Here you'll find a great selection of designer labels as well as high-street stores such as Sephora.
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Here there is plenty of architectural eye candy. Seek out the wonderfully sleek minimalism of Milán 44 (a market-style grocery store which also offers yoga classes). Or try the neighbourhood’s historic cantinas, many of which date back to the 1920s. Colonia Juarez is also very accessible, just a few kilometres from the city centre and bordered by three main arteries: Avenida Chapultepec, Insurgentes and Paseo de la Reforma.
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This is precisely why the neighbourhood now has some of the city’s best restaurants, along with a fantastic range of clubs and bars. It’s also got several malls, including Centro Santa Fe (Latin America’s largest, with 500 shops, an ice rink and its own hotel) and the smaller Garden Santa Fe. And amidst the skyscrapers, pockets of greenery are springing up. One example is Parque la Mexicana, with its bike lanes, running tracks and lakes.
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Condesa has a laidback vibe. It’s effortlessly cool, without the pretentiousness of other up-and-coming areas. Although we love its cafés and galleries, we also recommend taking the time to simply wander its tree-lined streets.
You’ll find some of the city’s mezcal bars here, as well as its best cafés. We recommend trying Chiquitito’s — a plant-filled coffee shop which sources its beans from a farm in Boca del Monte, Veracruz.
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Many of Roma’s original buildings are still standing and its streets are a photographer’s dream, with modernist buildings nudging up alongside Art Deco mansions. You’ll also find plenty of independent galleries and bookstores here. Today it’s regarded as Mexico City’s arts district. Colonia Roma is where to stay in Mexico City to enjoy the city's art scene.
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This list could truly go on. There are countless fantastic things to do in Mexico City. Ready to start planning your trip? Check out The Rough Guide to Mexico for travel tips from local experts.
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Header image: Mexico-City, Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in the foreground © Shutterstock