Mexico City and Nearby Towns/Cities

Apr 10th, 2010, 10:43 AM
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Mexico City and Nearby Towns/Cities


I am planning a trip to Mexico this June 2010. I plan to stay only for a week in that country. Tentatively, I am planning to fly into Mexico City and book a hotel for 6 nights in that city. I will use Mexico City as my base and travel to nearby cities/sites as a day trip.

Below are a list of the UNESCO of Mexico that I would like to visit. Could you please highlight for me (copy and eliminate) the ones that I can possibly visit during my stay in Mexico City. If there are worthy sites that are not located in Mexico City, please tell me how to get there and the duration of travel.

If you have other recommendations, please let me know. I am open to suggestions. (eg. I don't need to fly into Mexico City)

* Historic Centre of Mexico City and Xochimilco
* Historic Centre of Oaxaca and Archaeological Site of Monte Albán
* Historic Centre of Puebla
* Pre-Hispanic City and National Park of Palenque
* Pre-Hispanic City of Teotihuacan
* Sian Ka'an
* Historic Town of Guanajuato and Adjacent Mines
* Pre-Hispanic City of Chichen-Itza
* Historic Centre of Morelia
* El Tajin, Pre-Hispanic City
* Historic Centre of Zacatecas
* Rock Paintings of the Sierra de San Francisco
* Whale Sanctuary of El Vizcaino
* Earliest 16th-Century Monasteries on the Slopes of Popocatepetl
* Historic Monuments Zone of Querétaro
* Pre-Hispanic Town of Uxmal
* Hospicio Cabañas, Guadalajara
* Archaeological Zone of Paquimé, Casas Grandes
* Historic Monuments Zone of Tlacotalpan
* Archaeological Monuments Zone of Xochicalco
* Historic Fortified Town of Campeche
* Ancient Maya City of Calakmul, Campeche
* Franciscan Missions in the Sierra Gorda of Querétaro
* Luis Barragán House and Studio
* Islands and Protected Areas of the Gulf of California
* Agave Landscape and Ancient Industrial Facilities of Tequila
* Central University City Campus of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México
* Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve
* Protective town of San Miguel and the Sanctuary of Jesús Nazareno de Atotonilco
hobbitthefoodlover is offline  
Apr 10th, 2010, 11:24 AM
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Hobbitt, your list is all over the map of the entire country of Mexico, literally. Get a map and put X's on these areas, and then decide where you want to land and go from there.

For instance, if you land in Mexico City, you can go to Teotihucan and Xochimilco as day trips. You can also do a day trip, or better yet an overnight trip or even 2 nights, to the colonial town of Puebla, two hrs by bus from Mexico City. Or you could do a side trip to San Miguel de Allende and Queretaro, and/or Guanajuato, depending on how many days you give those.

But you need to set your sights on a geographical area, if you are planning to travel by bus. If you are ok w/using air transport inside of Mexico, you could land in Mexico City, spend a few days there, and then fly to Oaxaca city and you could see Monte Alban from there. (I would not recommend the bus for that far route from MExico City to Oaxaca with only one week).

Forget the butterfly reserve, it is the wrong time of year,only open mid-Nov through March.

Do some research, get a map, and make some decisions about what you like and want to do most- do you want to include one, or two, archeological zones, etc. Then come back and ask again.
emd3 is offline  
Apr 10th, 2010, 11:46 AM
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Looking strictly at day trips from and in Mexico City, you could probably do these:

Historic Centre of Mexico City and Xochimilco
Historic Centre of Puebla
Pre-Hispanic City of Teotihuacan
Earliest 16th-Century Monasteries on the Slopes of Popocatepetl
Archaeological Monuments Zone of Xochicalco (Tough, a lot of driving.)
Luis Barragán House and Studio
Central University City Campus of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México

As emd3 said, others would be possible as overnights or longer.

I think you need to do a little research and narrow things down.
Fra_Diavolo is online now  
Apr 10th, 2010, 01:09 PM
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Please see my report on Toluca (Mexico I & II. A nice day trip but a hour from MC.
Stewbear is offline  
Apr 10th, 2010, 05:05 PM
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One other thing- if you do decide to fly into Mexico City, Coyoacan is a nice day trip (nice zolcalo activity on weekends w.lots of vendors and outdoor live music/entertainment, nice indoor market, Frida Kahlo and Diego River's Blue House, Trotsky's house/museum, etc. Very nice afternoon can be spent here.) A neighborhood like that will help you slow down and enjoy the area and people instead of running from sight to sight on your long list.


I think it is a worthy idea to want to visit all those sites. And the majority of them could be visited in, I think, 4 trips of a week each.

But the challenge will be what you can do at a comfortable pace in the time you have on what I assume is your 1st trip to Mexico.

Do you speak any Spanish? And is this your 1st trip to Mexico?
emd3 is offline  
Apr 10th, 2010, 08:01 PM
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You also want to spend some time in Mexico City, one of the most interesting and vibrant cities in the world. I wouldn't plan on more than two day trips.
MikeT is offline  
Apr 11th, 2010, 08:47 AM
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Thank you all for your response! You have given valuable insights and suggestions!

Yes! This is my first time in Mexico. I do not speak Spanish.

I am a female. Is it safe to travel to MC alone as a female non-Spanish speaker? I have traveled throughout Europe for a month as a solo female traveler.

Thank you!
hobbitthefoodlover is offline  
Apr 11th, 2010, 09:13 AM
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As above Mexico is a large country and your ideas are all over the place. I would get a good tour book that devides Mexico into regions so you can really see where you can go from Mexico City. With the limited amount of time you have it could all be easily spent in the city. As far as relatively close, Toluca, Puebla and Cuernavaca are all close, but with your time horizon I do not know if its worth leaving Mexico City and environs at all.
Dude is offline  
Apr 11th, 2010, 04:12 PM
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With a full wk, I definitely think is is worth it to get to Puebla from Mexico City. Easy 2 hr bus ride. You can land in Mexico City and get the bus right inside the airport- you buy your ticket inside the airport and the 1st clas bus (w/free snack box, drink, and a movie, $17 each way) leaves from the parking garage at the airport. Two hrs later you are in Puebla, could hang there a few days (my preference would be 2 nights so I could go to Cholula and see the volcano and pyramid, and do it on a market day which I think is Tues and Sat in Cholula), then go back to Mexico City for rest of the week, go to Teotihuacan, go to Xochimilko on Sunday, and all the other great things Mexico City has to offer.

Puebla is a really nice colonial town. Beautiful, and great food and nice things to do. Google it. That and Mexico City would be a nice 1st trip for a wk. Or visit Mexico City and fly to Oaxaca, but that involves more flying and takes more time away from your week.

I have found MExico City very safe and easy as a solo female traveler. Ditto Puebla. Just have to keep your wits about you, be careful about what areas you go into alone esp. at night, etc. I speak enough Spanish to talk to Mexico City taxi drivers and evaluate them, their cost, their route, before I get in, but if I didn't speak any Spanish I would probably stick to taxis at the hotel stands (which cost more) just to be safe.
emd3 is offline  
Apr 11th, 2010, 08:36 PM
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One of the joys of traveling is experiencing genuine Mexican food. Could you recommend vendors/restaurants/food places to try.

Could you also recommend dishes that are a must try.

High end is not needed since I will be doing solo traveling and it feels weird to go a high end restaurant by oneself.

I am looking for things natives would enjoy/go to.
hobbitthefoodlover is offline  
Apr 12th, 2010, 07:51 AM
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In Mexico City it depends on where you stay. I stay at the Hotel Catedral, located a block behind the Cathedral and Zocalo. I love the location, always bustling and vibrant, subway stop right there, National Palace w/the Diego Rivera Murals right there, Templo Mayor archeological excavation right there, always something going on in the zocalo, lots of people watching. The hotel is clean and runs about $80 a night. That hotel has a good restaurant too, a real plus, inexpensive and you can get your breakfast included (choice of 10 different and very Mexican breakfast dishes) if you choose that rate. Lunch and dinner are also good there. Typically hotels like this have restaurants that are good values.

Hotel Isabel is less expensive but also good and in the centro historico and you will meet lots of fellow travelers there; restaurant is also good and inexpensive (see below).

The restaurants above and the ones following in Mexico City are btwn the Alameda Park and the Zocalo.

Although you will be there in June, there is a dish that is acssociated w/Mexican Independence Day (whihc is in mid-Sept.) that I was able to order in early July in Puebla and Mexico City. It is called chiles en nogada. It is one of the best dishes I have ever had in Mexico, so much so that I am taking a class from a cooking teacher in San Miguel de Allende this summer to learn how to make the dish. In Puebla I had it at a restaurant right on the zocalo. They will have signs in the window saying they have chilis en nogada if they are serving it.

In Mexico city I had it at a restaurant a block down from Cafe Tacuba (a famous restaurant in a lovely old setting w/lots of pretty tile work and a hole from Pancho Villas gun in the ceiling). I am sorry , I do not recall the name of the restaurant, but it is literally a block towards the zocalo from Cafe Tacuba, on the same side of the street, on a corner. The restaurant has an older section that looks like a diner (w/booths and formica tables) and a new section next door.

Cafe Tacuba is pretty famous and touristy (the locals and Mexican tourists eat there also) but I enjoyed going there anyway. Very colorful and I had a good meal there. Usually has live traditional music of some sort in the restaurant.

El Cardinal is a famous and very good restaurant. There is a smaller outpost of El Cardinal at the Sheraton Centro Historico hotel, which is right on the Alameda Park about a block down from the Palacio Belles Artes (lovely old performing arts bldg. w/famous Tiffany Glass curtain, worth seeing; the Ballet Folklorico performs there two days a wk, lovely show). That location of the restaurant is open for breakfast and lunch- go at lunch, it is very good.

Many smaller restaurants in Mexico serve a comida at lunch time. This is a fixed price meal and it is a good inexpensive way to sample a soup, main dish, and dessert for a small price. I like the Hotel Isabel's comida. It runs about $6 for the above dishes, and you can choose the main dish from several. Their fish is always good.

In Puebla, do not miss Las Ranas. This restaurant serves only two traditional dishes, tacos arabe and tacos al pastor. There is a spit of meat on a rotisserie at the front of the restaurant (it is open the street); there is pineapple at the top of the spit, w/the juices dripping down. One man stands at that spit, tending the meat, pouring the juices on the meat, and slicing all the meat for the tacos arabe. You order how many you want (they are on homemade pita like flatbread and are smallish- recommended- or on small corn tortillas), what you want on them (get at least the cojita cheese and use the green or red sauce and limes that are on your table), a beer, and enjoy. This place is cheap, clean, fun (often street musicians come in and play for customers; and great people watching, the locals eat here) and tacos arabe or al pastor here are a top dish, I can't even describe how good they are. Those tacos arabe are enough to make me dream of going back to Puebla, as much as I enjoy the other things about Puebla.

Here is a thread from chowhound on how to get to Las Ranas and pics of the food:
The famous spit:
the sauces:

Also good in Puebla: El Mural de los Poblanos, close to the main square. Nice place, big mural on the wall, good food. They have good mole, you should try that, it is a typical mexican dish/sauce that originated in Puebla. Also good soups there. Soups tend to be very flavorful in Mexico, I always order soup w/a dinner meal.

Taqueria los Angeles is great for breakfast in Puebla, right on the square. About a dozen bfast dishes, all w/coffee and glass of OJ or wonderful fresh carrot juice.

Don't miss the "calle de los dulces," (sweet street) in Puebla. Store after store sell many many different kinds of traditional candies on this street. It is at Av. 6 Oriente, btwn Av. 5 de Mayo and Calle 4 Norte.

Here are some great pics of Puebla from another poster on can see how beautiful it is.
emd3 is offline  
Apr 13th, 2010, 07:27 AM
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Can you recommend hotels to stay in while visiting Puebla?

Thank you for your help!
hobbitthefoodlover is offline  
Apr 13th, 2010, 09:53 AM
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There is a good rcent thread on hotels in Puebla. Put "Puebla" in the search box on this board and you will find it.
emd3 is offline  
Apr 13th, 2010, 11:19 PM
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I booked Hotel Catedral for a stay in January 2010 (previously stayed February 2008), and by emailing the hotel, and telling them I'd pay in cash, I think my rate worked out to $38 USD/night. Maybe the other poster had a different room or deal, but I just wanted to say that it can be a cheap hotel.
WillTravel is offline  
Apr 14th, 2010, 05:55 AM
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Just booked my RT ticket to MEX! Super excited!

Arriving into MEX at 9am on Wednesday.
Leaving from MEX at 9pm the following Wednesday.

A total of 7 days to explore the city and nearby towns!!

Thank you so much for the hotel/towns/restaurant info! This is going to be an awesome trip!

Keep the info coming I love them!
hobbitthefoodlover is offline  
Apr 14th, 2010, 07:04 AM
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This is a very tentative schedule:

1. Arrive into MEX at 9am.
2. Catch bus to Puebla
3. Explore Puebla

1. Explore Puebla

1. Explore Chochula

1. Return to and explore MC

1.Explore MC

1. Visit Teotihuacan

1. Visit Xochimilco

1. Explore MC
2. Leave for the airport at 6:55pm

If you have advice about the above, please let me know.

A few concerns:
1. How can I fit a visit to "Earliest 16th-Century Monasteries on the Slopes of Popocatepetl" into the above schedule?
2. Where can I get Peso?
3. If you have food, restaurant, site, must buys/must do's, please let me know. I am grateful.
hobbitthefoodlover is offline  
Apr 14th, 2010, 09:01 AM
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Hi Hobbit ---

My understanding is that the best day to visit Xochimilco is Sunday, when it is busiest, but I haven't been there myself. While you are in that area you might want to visit the Dolores Olmedo foundation for its collection of art by Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo.

I found the Anthropological Museum in Mexico City to be one of the finest of its kind in the world. Visit before you head out to Teotihuacan, and plan on spending at least two or three hours. There is a decent cafe in the museum, and the walks through the nearby parks are interesting.

I try to have a meal at La Fonda el Refugio whenever I'm in MC. I order the snapper Veracruzana. In Puebla, try a meal at the Meson Sacristia de la Compana.

Around the Zocalo visit the Templo Mayor and its small museum, the Cathedral, and the great Rivera murals in the National Palace.

There's so much -- I think you'll have a wonderful trip.
Fra_Diavolo is online now  
Apr 14th, 2010, 09:02 AM
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Oh forgot -- pesos. You can get them at ATMs throughout the country. Follow suggested security guidelines and avoid the ones that are right on the street.
Fra_Diavolo is online now  
Apr 14th, 2010, 09:17 AM
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Thank you for this valuable advice.

After traveling throughout Europe for a month, I learned not to put 4 events in one day. Good thing that you told me about the museum hour allocation.
hobbitthefoodlover is offline  
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