The larger hotels should be able to arrange such an excursion; check with the concierge. Major hotels also maintain fleets of turismo taxis associated specifically with the hotel. Such taxis can be used for a short hop to nearby restaurants and back, or for longer excursions to shop or sightsee.
For an hourly rate and normally a 2-hour time minimum , you can arrange to have the driver wait at a specific location in addition to providing transportation. Although turismo taxis are expensive, the peace of mind is well worth the cost. Most of Mexico City's major attractions are concentrated downtown, but even this is a sprawling area, so focusing on specific districts or neighborhoods will make sightseeing easier.
The ever-present human hubbub—not to mention the constant stream of taxicabs navigating the streets bordering the plaza—is a sight to behold. The lowering of the Mexican flag, performed daily at 6 p. Note: Do not even attempt to find a place to park on your own; if you want to walk around and explore, hire a licensed guide, a private driver or a hotel taxi to drop you off, wait and then take you back to where you're staying.
The Metropolitan Cathedral , built over a year period, is a mix of architectural styles, from a neoclassic clock tower to a baroque exterior decorated with statues and stone carvings. Inside are 16 chapels all but two open to the public , each dedicated to a saint and lavishly decorated with statuary, ornate altars, paintings and tapestries. Adjoining the cathedral is the Sacristy. It was built to house vestments and sacred objects.
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The National Palace is the seat of Mexico's federal government. The main reason to visit is to see the grand Diego Rivera murals that illustrate scenes from Mexico's history.
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These vivid depictions emphasize brutality, and while historically accurate the effect is sobering. Relax afterward with a trip to the building's courtyard, where there's a cactus garden. The Great Temple was discovered by a construction crew in Excavations revealed the buried remains of a large stone Aztec pyramid with wide staircases that had been destroyed by conquering Spaniards. The Great Temple Museum displays ancient artifacts retrieved from this site as well as from other archeological zones in Mexico.
The Historic Center contains many of the city's most beautiful and important buildings. The Citibanamex Palace of Culture , a fine example of 18th-century baroque architecture, was formerly the Iturbide Palace commissioned by a Spanish count as a dowry for his daughter ; it features cultural and art exhibits and other things to do. The Museum of Mexico City provides a great overview—everything from daily life in the Aztec city of Tenochtitlan to 19th-century carriages to the studio of Mexican impressionist painter Joaquin Clausell. Santo Domingo Plaza , one of the city's best-preserved colonial squares, is surrounded by charming old buildings.
Alameda Central is the other city park Chapultepec is the big enchilada , although it's been around for more than years. Filled with bench-lined, tree-shaded paths and dotted with beautiful baroque fountains, it's a great place to stroll and people watch. Food kiosks and craft and jewelry vendors set up around the park's perimeter. The House of Tiles , built in , is one of the city's finest Spanish colonial mansions; since it has been occupied by the flagship restaurant of Sanborns, a popular Mexican chain. The exterior sculptures are a decorative highlight. Privileged Aztec emperors once took a break from overseeing their empire by relaxing at Chapultepec Hill, part of Chapultepec Park.
This enormous green space has been enjoyed by workaday Mexican families for generations and is one of the fun things to do with kids. The cobblestoned walkways see their heaviest foot traffic on Sunday, when most residents have their day off. The major tourist attractions are located in the park's eastern section off Paseo de la Reforma.
The Monument to the Child Heroes , near the main entrance, is a memorial to six cadets who defended Chapultepec Castle during the Mexican-American War. The castle, a former military college, stands atop Chapultepec Hill. You can hike to the top a fairly steep climb or board a small tourist train near the park entrance.
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Next to the castle is the National Museum of History ; a guided tour of the 12 exhibit halls traces Mexican history up to the adoption of the constitution. Then head to the Chapultepec Park Zoo and say hi to a pair of giant pandas, hippopotamuses and zebras, among other animals. Near the zoo is the National Museum of Anthropology , with world-class exhibits of temple reconstructions, archeological artifacts, stone carvings, ceramics, decorative objects and masks.
Additional works by Tamayo are on view at the Rufino Tamayo Museum , along with the Oaxacan-born artist's personal collection. Two under-the-radar little museums in the vicinity of Chapultepec Park are worth visiting for their offbeat collections. The Museum of the Purpose of the Object focuses on the everyday: soda bottles, shoeshine kits, household appliances. Check it out if you're interested in the design evolution of Mexican-made products. Fans of vintage model airplanes, action figures and board games should head to the Mexican Antique Toy Museum.
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This fascinating hodgepodge of items is part of the personal collection of Mexico City architect Roberto Shimizu, who has amassed them over a lifetime. North of the Historic Center is the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe arrange for a driver to take you there if you're not familiar with Metro, the city's subway system.
It honors the Guadalupe virgin, Mexico's patron saint; devout Catholics believe she appeared to a peasant Indian at this site, asking him to build a church. In addition to the ultra-modern New Basilica, several other churches stand on the grounds of this sprawling complex. Over the last decade or so billionaire Carlos Slim has largely been behind the transformation of a formerly depressed area north of the Historic Center, which is now a prosperous district of high-rise offices and apartment buildings centered around Plaza Carso.
The destination is also home to several new-ish attractions. The Soumaya Museum houses the Mexican businessman's personal art collection. This asymmetrical structure, covered with 16, gleaming hexagonal aluminum plates, looks mega-cool from the outside. The adjacent Jumex Museum looks restrained in comparison, but the collection of contemporary art on display is noteworthy.
In addition to big names like Jeff Koons and Andy Warhol, you'll find works by emerging Mexican artists. Switch gears from art to sea creatures at the Inbursa Aquarium , across the street from the two museums. Mexico City's first aquarium has four underground levels and displays some different species of marine life.
At feet tall, the Revolution Monument is a city landmark. The neoclassic building housing the San Carlos National Museum was once the residence of Mexican military generals; it contains a top-notch collection of paintings by such European masters as Rembrandt, Titian and Peter Paul Rubens. There are several notable tourist attractions in Mexico City's southern districts; take a taxi associated with your hotel to visit them. The collection of works by Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo is exemplary.
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Where you stay in Mexico City will definitely affect your sightseeing schedule. Fortunately, there are a number of hotel options near Chapultepec Park and in the nearby upscale Polanco neighborhood. The service staff here goes the extra mile to make guests feel comfortable. Big, suite-style rooms make this a good choice for families, and if your Spanish is rusty, not to worry; the staff speaks English. If you want to be near Chapultepec Park, try the W Mexico City , which is convenient to Polanco restaurants and shopping.
From French onion soup to coq au vin to the fancy desserts, this elegant restaurant delivers. Late diners take notice; it's open 24 hours. In the same hotel you can switch from classic French to classic Italian at Alfredo di Roma , where the fettuccine is prepared tableside, the wine list fills a book and desserts are positively sinful.
The former Carmelite monastery has multiple dining rooms furnished in Spanish colonial style and flower gardens shaded by trees and accented by stone fountains. La Opera Restaurant Bar , in the Historic Center, also serves regional cuisine and has a wonderful Old World ambience complete with mirrored walls and cozy, dark-paneled booths. Even if you don't have lunch or dinner here, stop by for an early evening drink—the bar is suitably impressive—and check out the bullet hole allegedly fired by Pancho Villa into the ceiling your waiter will gladly show you.
If you're pinching pennies or just want to savor some authentic street food, stop at one of the vendors who set up on almost every street corner and purchase a couple of tacos al pastor. The grilled pork and onions are heaped on a corn tortilla and garnished with cilantro; they're cheap and mighty tasty.
Getting There. Airlines offering direct international flights from U. Other airlines providing service to the airport include Air Canada and Alaska. Two passenger terminals, Terminal 1 and Terminal 2, are at opposite sides of the airport and connected by a monorail that can only be accessed by passengers with a boarding pass, confirmed ticket or an e-ticket reference number.
T1 handles most domestic flights; T2 handles most international flights. Phone 55 for recorded information regarding Terminal 1, 55 for recorded information regarding Terminal 2. Facilities catering to foreign travelers in the arrivals hall include Banamex and Bancomer bank branches, cellphone rental, internet access, ATMs and casas de cambio currency exchange offices , a food court and a variety of gift and duty-free shops. Rental car agencies include Hertz. Mexico City Hotel and Motel Association representatives look for booths near the baggage claim area can assist in booking a room at one of their member properties according to location and price specifications.
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