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What to See in Mexico City

Here's Your Guide to the Top Destination to Visit in 2016: Mexico City

Mexico City is one of the largest, most vibrant cities in the world, so it's no wonder that The New York Times recently named it the number one place to visit in 2016. I'm from Puebla, just an hour's drive outside of Mexico City. My friends and I love to head into the city on weekends to soak up the rich culture. Whether it's a show, a concert, or a nightclub, there is literally never a dull moment.

If you are planning on visiting the top destination to travel to this year or have already booked a trip, here's an insider guide to all the must-see places. Consider this your ultimate Mexico City bucket list.

Image Source, above: Esteban Fuentes de Maria

Teotihuacan

Image Source: Esteban Fuentes de Maria

This imposing city of the gods, located on the outskirts of Mexico City, preserves the remains of one of the most important civilizations of Mesoamerica, the Aztecs. It offers majestic buildings, including The Pyramid of the Sun, the Temple of Quetzalpapalotl, and the Avenue of the Dead. The beauty of this place and its mystical energy will amaze you. Plan to spend an entire day here.

Museo Soumaya

Image Source: Esteban Fuentes de Maria

If you're into the arts, the Soumaya Museum has one of the most impressive collections in Mexico City. Sponsored by the Carlos Slim Foundation and free of charge to visitors, the Soumaya offers some of the best exhibits in paintings, sculptures, coins, and folk art.

Museo Frida Kahlo in Coyoacán

Definitely one of the most interesting museums in Mexico City, it's located in Kahlo's childhood home — where she grew up before meeting her famous painter husband, Diego Rivera. The museum is a walk down Kahlo's life as a feminist painter, through her art, quotes, and photographs. It's packed with a punch of color and will not disappoint. Plan to arrive early before the crowds get there; however, once you are in, it will not take long to make your way through.

Next, walk out into the neighborhood of Coyoacán, the cultural and colonial heart of the city. This vibrant area is thriving with restaurants, bookstores, sidewalk cafes, and a quaint plaza where you can sit and people-watch while enjoying ice cream from the shops surrounding it. Be sure to take a walk through the historical monuments and amazing gilded churches, too.

Castillo de Chapultepec

Image Source: Debora Balcazar

The Chapultepec Castle is witness to the history of Mexico, located at the top of the Chapultepec hill and in the middle of Mexico City's version of Central Park. Originally a military school, it later served as the home of Emperor Maximilian and his wife, Carlota, before the Mexican government executed Maximilian and Carlota went mad from grief. It has beautiful gardens and artifacts full of history. You can take a leisurely stroll up the hill until you reach the castle and enjoy the amazing view of the city.

Basílica de Guadalupe

This is a place where history and faith intersect in a simply extraordinary way. Visited each year by more than 12 million faithful, the Basílica is located just at the foot of Tepeyac Hill and is considered one of the leading Catholic campuses across America. Its scale and its importance will astound you.

Masaryk (Polanco-Shopping)

Looking for a place to see and be seen? When it comes to shopping, Avenida Presidente Masaryk is the most exclusive street in the city. With its designer boutiques and jewelry stores, Masaryk provides a sophisticated atmosphere (similar to Rodeo Drive) with some of the finest hotels, the most exclusive art galleries, and the trendiest restaurants. Speaking of food — lunchtime in Mexico City does not begin before 2 p.m., so don't bother showing up to a restaurant before then.

Palacio de Bellas Artes

Image Source: Esteban Fuentes de Maria

Where to begin? This Fine Arts Palace is such an imposing structure. It's home to the National Symphony, the Mexican Opera Company, the National Dance Company, and the world-famous Folkloric Ballet, as well as a museum with murals by Mexico's most famous artists: José Clemente Orozco, David Alfaro Siqueiros, Rufino Tamayo, and Diego Rivera.

If you're into art, the facade is mostly neoclassical with some touches of art noveau, yet when you enter the grand foyer, the style changes to art deco — it's such a visual treat. Plan to attend one of the musical or dance events there, if you can. At the very least, walk by and notice how the palace, like many of the surrounding buildings, is sinking, because it's sitting on a dried-up lakebed from the Aztec time.

Palacio de Correos

Also known as the Main Post Office, it's a jewel of architecture with its eclectic mix of styles ranging from Renaissance revival to art deco. The interior is filled with lots of gold and intricate ironwork. Since admission is free, it's definitely worth going.

Zócalo and Cathedral (Centro)

The historic center of the city, with its imposing cathedral on one side and the Presidential Palace on the other, faces one of the largest squares in the world: the Zócalo. All the streets leading into the Zócalo are a reflection of Mexico's culture and history.

Xochimilco

Image Source: Isabel Ortega

Located in the south of the city, Xochimilco means "place of flowers" in Nahuatl. The name was given to the area because almost the entire population in the neighborhood works in the cultivation of flowers. Arrive around lunchtime, hire a trajinera — the large barges adorned with fresh flowers — and plan to spend the afternoon floating through the canals. Sit back and let the barge driver do all the work. Food and music barges floating by will complete your festive afternoon.

Restaurants

If you're interested in exploring Mexico City's food scene even more, these are the restaurants you should have on your radar.

In Polanco:

In La Roma:

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