- Cityscape Cosmopolitan clamour
- City Life Monuments, mescal and mariachi
Mexico City, erstwhile heart of the vast Aztec empire, once stood in the middle of a lake. These days the water is gone, replaced by a churning sea of humanity – with more than 19 million inhabitants, the city is one of the largest and most dynamic on earth.
People come to Mexico City from all over the country, in search of economic freedom, a happening urban lifestyle, or just an old-fashioned good time. As a result, the city is a melting pot of the various cultures and languages of rural Mexico. In its vast ruins and astounding museums you find evidence of the Aztec past, but walk in its markets and streets today and you still get a sense that this is not just another overdeveloped former European colony – Mexico City has a culture and a flavour all of its own. With a vibrant arts scene and an amazing creative energy, you’ll find plenty of interest in its galleries, fashion boutiques, and the mariachi music that echoes down the city streets. The capital’s restaurants proudly continue the rich culinary traditions of the country that brought the world chocolate, corn and the tomato, and, whether it’s the Day of the Dead or just another Saturday night in the city, you’ll discover that no one knows how to party like the Mexicans – and not a piñata in sight.
Do go/Don’t go
June is the rainy season, although in between showers it can still get very hot as the humidity increases, so it’s not the ideal time to go. Mexico City enjoys a warm climate throughout the rest of the year but winter can be the most pleasant time to visit.
- Planes Benito Juárez International Airport is Mexico’s main hub for international and travel, offering direct flights to and from New York, LA, London and other destinations in the US and Caribbean. BA, AA and United both fly to and from the airport. You can arrange a direct transfer to La Purificadora on the hotel’s own Cessna.
- Trains Mexico’s metro does link the airport with the city cheaply and quickly, but it’s usually crowded and some passengers can be prone to ‘ungentlemanly’ behaviour – best avoided.
- Automobiles You can rent a car at the airport (Avis and others have branches here) but only the most gifted and patient drivers should consider it, as the roads in Mexico City can be chaotic at best. Stick to taxis.
- Taxis It’s best not to flag cabs in the street – some are unlicensed and you do hear the occasional horror story. Have your hotel arrange a taxi for you where possible, or call Taximex (+52 55 5634 9912). If you do flag one down, look for a green or red mark along the bottom of the number-plate that denotes a licensed car. You’ll find taxi ranks outside many of the major museums and tourist spots but, be warned, overcharging is something of a habit.